Chicago Underground Trio

Slon

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One of the more immediately accessible recordings by the Chicago Underground Trio, Slon captures even more facets of this ever-evolving and always intriguing group. The album opens with a nice exercise for Rob Mazurek's cornet, titled "Protest," in which the trio members hammer away live in the studio for a minute and a half before they introduce overdubs to pit time signatures against one another and raise the tension of the piece. Overdubbing is a generally unaccepted approach in the world of jazz traditionalists, but the Chicago Underground Trio explore the traditions of jazz in the sense that the genre was the epicenter of experimentalism in the musical world, and anyway, they make a great case for experimenting with modernity to create new jazz practices. Mazurek and bassist Noel Kupersmith intersperse electronic bits into the mix with great success, giving the entire mood more depth and unexpected tone colors, while drummer Chad Taylor has eccentricities of his own in the way he tumbles out rhythms. The ambitions of the group have certainly been documented with each outing, but with Slon they seem more focused on an overall concept for the record as an atmospheric listen. Perhaps it has to do with Mazurek, Kupersmith, and Taylor having aged together enough at this point to really anticipate each other, or perhaps it is that the songs were written in a single month. Whatever the case, Slon is a document of a band that has really hit its stride.

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