Friday, September 15, 2006

Globe Trotters: Rob Mazurek & Sao Paolo Underground

I had meant to make this post the night of the show, but I got home and forgot all about it.

I don't know if I've blogged about an Ars Nova show yet, but this past Wednesday night myself and a group of about 30 other people gathered in an unassuming black box-like theater. We sat in bleacher-like seating in dingy chairs and watched magic occur between a group of musicians that have come together as a result of one man's journey to find a new musical voice (perhaps a new life) in the Brazilian jungle.

Of course I'm speaking of the now-esteemed Chicago-born quasi-avant-straight-ahead trumpeter Rob Mazurek. His current project moves the spirit, moves the torso, taps the foot, and generally fucks you up.

Despite arriving about 10 minutes late, the set hadn't started. The band was aligned in a very specific manner: drum set up front on the far left (from the audience's vantage point). To his left was a cat playing various samples and distortion/feedback boxes. To his left and slightly forward was a seated Mazurek with an array of mutes and feedback/effects pedals at his feet. And finally to Mazurek's left was another drum set who also had an Apple iBook laptop directly next to his hi-hat so he could program beats (it was my impression). It appeared it was this 2nd drummer's job to keep the flow of the set going as his computer housed the basis of their set.

The concert was ultimately an experimental yet funky and generally moving affair. Mazurek has a strange yet refreshing tendency to hint at the avant-garde while momentarily dipping in and out of straight-ahead playing a la Freddie Hubbard. However while he's playing his trumpet, the rest of the band has the listener fully enrapt in a trance as they rock out over dub and hip-hop grrrroooves punctuated by the occasional solo cadenza by the bearded (and on this night red-shirted) Mazurek.

It was the most fun shooting the shit with the band members and Mazurek after the show. I made my best attempt to impress everybody with my musical knowledge, like the show-off I tend to be. Rob was a really chilled out dude; very casual. When I walked up to him, I introduced myself as the guy who tried to book him in Pittburgh and he remembered me. So I mentioned the Invisible Jukebox which ran in the June 2006 issue of The Wire. We talked about how he correctly identified Lee Morgan from The Last Session (Blue Note 1973) and about how a couple days earlier after the Guelph Jazz Festival the band went back to Dixon's home in Bennington, VT and Rob had asked the elder trumpeter if he had any copies of the renowned 6-CD collection of
of solo works, also known as Odyssey.

Dixon answered, "We only have one copy of Odyssey here....I guess the Odyssey goes to Rob." Dixon charged Mazurek zero dollars.

Speaking of Merch, the band had sold out of all copies of its latest CD, Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres.

Anyways, I think that about sums it up....Oh, I also met a middle-aged hippie woman named Linda who asked me for info on ProTools and I ended up driving home. Random, I know.

Rob called me the next day at work hoping to hook up and see my boss' record collection, but the reception was shitty and we got cut off. Sorry Rob. Until we meet again, it was a pleasure. Your music rocks.

Also, Guilherme, you owe me a CD! Don't worry. I am going to purchase the album

Go see the Sao Paolo Underground in Mazurek's native Chicago at the World Music Festival on September 20.

Sao Paulo Underground features:
Mauricio Takara, drums/percussion/electronics (the guy on the right)
Richard Ribeiro, drums/percussion (the guy on the left)
Gulherme Granado, samplers/percuscion/voice (the dude in the middle to Rob's left)
Rob Mazurek, cornet/electronics (well, its not hard to pick out Rob).

Rob Mazurek's annoyingly cubist website.
If you get discouraged with the navigation, try this.
Strangely, Rob Mazurek is strangely on MySpace. Go figure.

Now listening to: RJD2 - F.H.H. from Deadringer. Buy it at
RJD2 & Jakki Da Motamouth - Deadringer - F.H.H.

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