Chicago-based composer, improviser and multi-media artist Rob Mazurek has drawn inspiration from a multitude of audio and visual styles and sources over the past three decades. Augmenting his cornet playing with computer programming, electronics and an assortment of keyboards, Mazurek's broad electro-acoustic palette defies simple categorization. Having relocated back to Chicago after an extended stay in São Paulo, Brazil, Mazurek currently leads and composes for a wide variety of ongoing ensembles, including the Chicago Underground Duo, Exploding Star Orchestra, São Paulo Underground, Pharoah & The Underground (featuring Pharoah Sanders), and most recently Black Cube SP.
Rob recently appeared on the cover of The Wire magazine and was voted MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR by Italy's top jazz magazine, Musica Jazz! He is constantly touring the world and is known as one of today's most intrepid and sought after sound explorers
GALACTIC PARABLES: VOLUME 1
(Rob Mazurek / Exploding Star Orchestra)
"Mazurek and company channel electric Miles, Sun Ra, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago to make a recording that is cosmic, spiritual, raw, and powerful."
“Inspired by years of living in Brazil, Chicago cornet player Rob Mazurek ... mixes jazz fusion influenced by Miles Davis’s early 70s output with Brazilian Tropicalia and electronica. The result is a psychedelic, spacey, multi-layered electro-acoustic trip; epic and, at times, intense and scary."
"I thought the whole band was exceptional. Very shocking, actually, to see how well they absorbed all of that Sun Ra influence and went on to do their own thing...they've absorbed all the things that are relevant so they can take all of that and make their own statement...they sound great to me."
Composer, cornetist, electronic & acoustic sound specialist and musical director Rob Mazurek leads his largest regular ensemble, the Exploding Star Orchestra through one of his most ambitious recordings.
While Galactic Parables: Volume 1 is a self-contained cosmos, marked by colliding melodic lines and startlingly beautiful passages, as the title indicates, it’s part of a larger work. Ever since Exploding Star Orchestra’s debut recording, Mazurek has been gradually building an epic science fiction opera inspired by the writings of Samuel R. Delany and Stanislaw Lem. With Galactic Parables his vast speculative realm is coming more clearly into focus with an apocalyptic vision of alternate universes, machine reproduction run amuck, and the colonization of distant planets. Galactic Parables “is the first record where we’re getting close to hitting on the libretto for this future opera,” says Mazurek, who by both inclination and geography is linked to a constellation of Chicago avant-garde pioneers.
Ultimately what makes the record so enthralling on both the flight into the cosmos and the return journey is that the Exploding Star Orchestra brings together a creatively charged cast of improvisers:
Rob Mazurek - cornet, electronics, direction (I/II)
Damon Locks - text, voice, electronics (I/II)
Angelica Sanchez - piano (I/II)
Jeff Parker - guitar (I/II)
John Herndon - drums (I/II)
Matthew Lux - electric bass (I/II)
Matthew Bauder - tenor sax, clarinet (I/II)
Chad Taylor - drums (I)
Guilherme Ganado - keyboard, samplers, synth, voice (I)
Mauricio Takara - cavaquinho, electronics, percussion (I)
Nicole Mitchell - flutes, voice (II)
All of these musicians have performed and recorded together under Mazurek’s leadership in various ensembles and configurations. In many ways, Exploding Star Orchestra is the mothership, the “conceptual, compositional and philosophical center of all my work.” Mazurek says.
The band came together in 2005 when the Chicago Cultural Center and the Jazz Institute commissioned Mazurek to create a vehicle that could encompass the disparate styles and ideologies of avant-garde music unfolding in Chicago. Conceived as a one-off event, Exploding Star took on a life of its own, and has continued to evolve reflecting the transient nature of musicians’ lives. Each subsequent Exploding Star Orchestra project has featured an evolving cast of players. Galactic Parables brings Mazurek one giant step closer to realizing his oversized vision.The universe is a very big place. Rob Mazurek is doing his part to fill it with glorious sound.
Galactic Parables: Volume 1 press release
RETURN THE TIDES
(Rob Mazurek and Black Cube SP)
"I have always thought of the idea of passing as a beautiful thing, in which the soul or life force of the individual is somehow transferred to the immensity and brilliance of the entirety. The idea of Heaven and Hell (and everything inbetween) has always been a hallmark within the limited spectrum of what we humans can come up with and the idea of God or Gods has, for some, been an interesting way of putting a life and circumstances into some kind of mysterious belief system that can at times be fed off of and at times be fed to." Rob Mazurek, excerpt from Return the Tides
Return The Tides is a deeply felt tribute and requiem for Rob Mazurek's mother, who died 2 weeks before this recording session. The album features Rob's group São Paulo Underground plus additional musicians:
Rob Mazurek - cornet, electronics, voice
The limited edition vinyl edition comes in a beautiful, gatefold jacket and is pressed on purple vinyl (Rob's mother's favorite color); it's a stunning package.
"Mazurek finds a challenge irresistible, and this is one of his most exciting projects" – The Wire
Skull Sessions combines two of Rob's groups: Sao Paulo Underground and Starlicker with additional personnel. The band is an international cast of masters, including drummer John Herndon (of Tortoise), vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz and flutist Nicole Mitchell, (both DownBeat poll winners on their respective instruments), Guilherme Granado on keyboards and electronics, Carlos Issa on guitar and electronics, Mauricio Takara on percussion and cavaquinho (Brazilian ukulele), and Thomas Rohrer on C melody saxophone and rabeca (a rustic Brazilian viola associated with the northeast). The fusion of these musicians ignites a beautiful cosmic burst!
The big bang that led to Skull Sessions detonated when the We Want Miles exhibition at SESC Sao Paulo requested that Mazurek devise a presentation related to his deep affinity for the music of Miles Davis. In characteristic fashion, he decided against recreating any of Davis’s music, instead composing new pieces and rearranging earlier works for the Octet’s particular personalities and unusual timbres. The resulting album is a exploratory album that puts great musicians and compositions together and trusts in them enough to simply let them go!
***Only 250 copies are available from us of the high quality vinyl pressing, which includes a digital download card.
Skull Sessions press release