AMN Reviews: Chicago / London Underground – A Night Walking Through Mirrors (2017; Cuneiform Records)

Cornetist Rob Mazurek has developed a distinctive sound over the last decade or so – a form of open-ended improv that is based on premeditated themes, but spacious and deliberately paced with an emphasis on tasteful use of voice, electronics, and effects. Here, he teams with longtime collaborator Chad Taylor on drums, as well as two gentlemen from across the pond, Alexander Hawkins on piano and John Edwards on bass. The resulting Chicago / London Underground quartet traverse four long tracks on this debut recording, recorded live last April at London’s Cafe Oto.

Mazurek and Taylor, of course, are the Chicago Underground Duo. Playing and recording together for 20 years, they have released seven albums as the Duo, and several more with others as the Chicago Underground Trio or Chicago Underground Quartet. Taylor is sought-after in Chicago and elsewhere, having a storied career as a session-man. Hawkins, the youngest member of the group, is a notable creative-music pianist who is becoming a mainstay of the London scene. His influences include Art Tatum, Cecil Taylor, and Marilyn Crispell, and he plays “free” but with a great clarity. Edwards is a legendary player in European improv.

With such collective resumes amongst its members, the expectations for this version of the Underground is high. But perhaps the initial impression developed from listening to A Night Walking Through Mirrors is that the group will go just about anywhere. Mazurek offers some of his trademark echoing themes, but breaks them down while Taylor provides an active, driving rhythm, giving the whole drum kit a workout. Edwards is similarly up and down the bass, positively attacking and sawing at it at times, while Hawkins has the knack of putting the right notes in unexpected places.

The pacing varies, as each track has slower, structureless sections, as well as more full-out moments. Ultimately, the album captures the quintessential feel of a free-improv live performance – the dynamics, skillfulness, and idiosyncracies.

The result is nearly 80 minutes of intense, yet thoughtful music. Comparisons? None that are apt, though this might be what would have come from Miles Davis if he had taken a few more left turns around 1970. A subtle release with a character that grows.

Other reviews of Mazurek’s recordings:

AMN Reviews: Rob Mazurek and Black Cube SP – Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost (2014; Cuneiform Records)

AMN Reviews: Chicago Underground Duo – Locus (2014; Northern Spy)

AMN Reviews: São Paulo Underground – Beija Flors Velho E Sujo (Cuneiform)

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San Francisco Scene: March 11-17, 2017

Top of the Transamerica building, downtown San...

From the Bay Improviser Calendar.

Saturday, March 11

Sat 3/11 12:00 PM Noisebridge Hackerspace [2169 Mission St SF]
Recurring music series featuring Noise/Free Improv/Experimental music and vegan pancakes.

Sat 3/11 4:00 PM St. John’s Presbyterian Church [2727 College Avenue – Berkeley, CA]
New Music Pioneers! Thomas Buckner, Baritone , Earl Howard: ‘Left-handed Quarck’ (Thomas Buckner, voice; J.D. Parran, winds; Andrew Drury, percussion; Earl Howard, live electronics and processing); Annea Lockwood: ‘Night and Fog’/poems by Osip Mandelstam and Carolyn Forshé (Thomas Buckner, voice; J.D. Parran, baritone saxophone; Andrew Drewry, percussion; Pete Wyer: As yet untitled/text by Mark Strand (Thomas Buckner, voice; J.D. Parran, winds; Pete Wyer, guitar; tba, ‘cello)

Sat 3/11 8:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Anne La Berge: Utter
Anne La Berge’s solo concert Utter features richly moving interactive works that weave together performer, audience and digital technology. From her new collaborative work Utter to the Byzantine-inspired Oneiricon from Yannis Kyriakides, La Berge combines virtuosity, innovation and raw emotion in a way rarely seen on today’s stages.

Sunday, March 12

Sun 3/12 3:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
CARDEW CHOIR : the great learning (paragraph two)
The Cornelius Cardew Choir performs the rarely heard choral and drum work, The Great Learning, Paragraph 2 by Cornelius Cardew. This durational work (approx. 1 hour in length) sets text by Confucius in an English translation. Spatially separated groups of singers provide a very slow, long-tone melody while a drummer with each group of singers moves through a series of 26 rhythm patterns. The result is a mesmerizing ocean of sound.

Sun 3/12 7:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
ADAM TENDLER : still
Adam Tendler returns to the Center for New Music with an intimate program of works that quietly examine stillness, and approach the piano itself as a source of the most discreet sound and contact. Music by Charlie Sdraulig, Marina Poleukhina, John Cage and Morton Feldman.

Sun 3/12 7:00 PM Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive [2155 Center St. Berkeley]
Full: LaPorte
Canadian electroacoustic musician Jean-François LaPorte uses sculptural instruments and experimental control mechanisms.

Sun 3/12 7:30 PM SIMM Series @ The Musicians Union Hall [116 9th St @ Mission SF]
7:30pm Joshua Marshall & friends
Joshua Marshall – sax; Isaac Otto – sax; Safa Shokrai – bass; Aaron Levin – drums
8:30pm Noertker’s Moxie
Annelise Zamula – tenor sax, flute; Amber Lamprecht – oboe, flute; Brett Carson – piano/Bill Noertker – contrabass; Jason Levis – drums

Monday, March 13

Mon 3/13 6:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Intersections: An SF State of Mind
An exhilarating evening of live performance, discussion and demonstrations, where you will learn about the latest trends in biotechnology and how they are shaping and informing musical creativity. Check out demos from some of the coolest new companies and artists blazing a trail in this exciting space.

Mon 3/13 9:30 PM Studio Grand [3234 Grand Ave, Oakland]
Oakland Freedom Jazz Society: Day-Djll-Leonard + Rasputin and the Biz Tzar

Tuesday, March 14

Tue 3/14 7:00 PM Cyprian’s Center [2097 Turk Street San Francisco Ca (corner of Turk and Lyon) (downstairs)]
Lingua Incognita Session #3 – open improv session around double rhythm section and the grammar of electric fusion and nowave improv/jazz (a la Miles Davis, Ornate Coleman, Hermeto Pascoal, Sun Ra, Weather Report …) with Dancing’ Baby experimental baritone horn trio opening set

Tue 3/14 8:00 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
Hakidame ni Tsuru: Satoko Fujii and Larry Ochs
Satoko Fujii, the great Japanese pianist returns to the Bay Area with “”Hakidame ni Tsuru”” (…translates into English as “crane in the wasteland”…) Through improvised music and movement, the group traverses cultures and continents, stretching its wings beyond boundaries and across borders. Larry Ochs’ TBD opens

Tue 3/14 9:30 PM Uptown Nightclub [1928 Telegraph Ave Oakland]
Active Music Series Presents:
We Buy Gold
Lion Creek
Goldberg/Wong/Trammell/Anderson

Wednesday, March 15

Wed 3/15 7:30 PM Canessa Gallery [708 Montgomery St SF]
For our March event at Canessa Gallery we’re excited to present Kenneth Atchley, Kattt Atchley + Ron Heglin, David Graves.

Wed 3/15 7:30 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
“Friction” plays with “Common Sense”
Friction String Quartet plays West Coast premieres by the eight members of the Common Sense Composers’ Collective. Performance at 7:30pm. Wine Reception at 6:30pm.

Wed 3/15 8:00 PM Ivy Room [860 San Pablo Ave Albany]
Ivy Room Presents
Wednesday’s Best: Scott Amendola Trio with Karl Evangelista, and Jason Hoopes

Thursday, March 16

Thu 3/16 8:00 AM Luggage Store Creative Music Series [1007 Market Street SF]
8pm: Skull Krusher
Philip Everett – electronics/acoustics
9pm: PureFinder
Mark Pino – percussion, Andrew J Palmer – electronics

Thu 3/16 8:00 PM The Night Light [311 Broadway Oakland, CA]
Triple Bill!
EFFT (Sarah Elena Palmer – Noah Phillips)
Two Aerials (Crystal Pascucci – Mark Clifford – Jordan Glenn)
Lisa Mezzacappa: avantNOIR – CD release! (Aaron Bennett – John Finkbeiner – William Winant – Tim Perkis – Jordan Glenn – Lisa Mezzacappa)

Friday, March 17

Fri 3/17 6:00 PM Presidio Officer’s Club [50 Moraga Ave SF]
Bassist Lisa Mezzacappa celebrates the release of her CD avantNOIR, a suite of music inspired by noir crime fiction, as part of the Presidio Sessions presented by the SF Friends of Chamber Music. With Aaron Bennett, tenor sax, John Finkbeiner, electric guitar, Tim Perkis, electronics, William Winant, vibraphone and Foley, and Jordan Glenn, drums.

Fri 3/17 7:00 PM Adobe Books [3130 24th Street San Francisco]
‘Fraid o’ Freyja
Fri 3/17 7:30 PM Noe Valley Ministry [1021 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA]
Join us on March 17 and 18 for Bard Music West’s inaugural festival, The World of György Ligeti, and explore the eclectic music and influences of the brilliant Hungarian composer whose revolutionary works became famous through the films of Stanley Kubrick. Encounter Transylvanian folk music, absurdist theater, monumental choral works, a world premiere, and some of Ligeti’s most stunning compositions.

Fri 3/17 7:30 PM Center for New Music [55 Taylor St SF]
New Perspectives: Digital Album Release
ALL THAT BAD play exploratory music on harp, trumpet and bass.

Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter

Peter Brötzmann at "Sonore" concert,...

Source: Downtown Music Gallery.

Keith Tippett/Tom Jackson/Benedict Taylor/Ashley John Long LTD Edition CD! Harris Eisenstadt With Anna Webber/Sara Schoenbeck/Nate Wooley/Brandon Seabrook..! Johannes Bauer & Peter Brotzmann! Ken Vandermark’s DEK Trio! Trio 3: Andrew Cyrille/Oliver Lake/Reggie Workman! Satoko Fujii Solo Piano 2 CD Set! Two Great Franklin Kiermyer Quartets! Spunk Return!

Axel Dorner/Dominic Lash/Roger Turner! Andrea Parkins & Brain Chase! Rich & Carson Halley! Julie Slick’s EchoTest! Two from Tim Motzer! Sun Ra Definitive Singles Collection! Bulent Arel! More Restocks from the Lovely Music label! Lightnin’ Hopkins! Michael Hurley! The Velvet Underground and More//!

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The FREE DMG Weekly New Music In-Store Series Continues on Sundays with:

Sunday, March 12th: CD Release Set for Rob Price’s New Trio!
6pm: ROB PRICE / BEN GALLINA / ANDY O’NEILL – Guitar / Bass / Drums
7pm: NICOLAS LETMAN-BURTONOVIC / NICK JOSWIAK / ZACH SWANSON BASS TRIO

Sunday, March 19th:
6pm: JULIAN KIRSHNER / DAN FANDINO / SAM WEINBERG / GERRIT HATCHER
7pm: JEFF PLATZ / DMITRY ISHENKO / DALIUS NAUJOKAITIS

Sunday, March 26th Triple Header with:
6pm: NLH – Solo Guitar!
SEAN ALI – Solo Contrabass!
VLAD LUCHANSKY & DAVID GROLLMAN!

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017:
6pm: LEAP OF FAITH Return!
7pm: MOPPA ELLIOTT – Solo Bass
8pm: LEAP OF FAITH & MOPPA ELLIOTT

Sunday, April 9th:
6pm: GIANT DWARF: MARTIN PHILADELPHY & JEREMY CARLSTEDT!

Brain Records Boxed Set Scheduled for April Release

Brain Records, a legendary Krautrock label is releasing a boxed set compilation.

Over one year in the making this 8CD box covering the glorious years of the famous BRAIN Records label will allow a unique insight into the progressive and stunning releases that occurred during that era. Germany – the cradle of Krautrock – was a pulsating center for new sounds and risk taking compositions. This is a marvelous tribute to that golden era with acts such as Guru Guru, Grobschnitt, Klaus Schulze, and many more.

This boxset ist limited to 3300 units worldwide and will contain 8 CDs (83 tracks!), a 74-pages hardcover book and a green tote bag (that can fit vinyl!) with a Brain logo imprint, all housed in a lift off lid box with green linen wrap (size 25cm x 25cm).

All tracks have been newly remastered by Eroc (former drummer of “Grobschnitt” and mastering guru). All new liner notes / Brain history written by Mark Powell (English / German).

CD 1-6: Various Brain artists, like Scorpions, Guru Guru, Grobschnitt, Cluster, Embryo, Novalis, Wolfgang Dauner, Jane, SpyroGyra, Alexis Korner, Jane.

CD 7-8: Brain Festival Essen, Part I (1977) and II (1978), only released on Vinyl before!