Rob Mazurek has long been entrenched in his eclectic, global and multi-media creative sphere making it easy for listeners to forget his musical roots. With his 1994 leader debut, Man Facing East (Hep Records), he had already shown signs of breaking with convention, particularly on the title track of that album. The electro-acoustic cornet and keyboard player and visual artist began his music career in Chicago, working his way through hard bop and progressive rock before finding his place in the avant-garde/free improvisation sub-genres. The latter forms do little justice to the unique and varied approaches that Mazurek pursues across multiple group formations. Rome, is Mazurek's first solo outing since Vortice of the Faun (Astral Spirits, 2015), a very different, all-electronic noise album.
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten reminds us that jazz is the musical equivalent of a dark star, a musical black hole, absorbing all musical energy and classifications. The Norwegian-born bassist-turned Austin, TX resident assembled a multi-genre sextet under the uncategorizable name The Young Mothers. Sure, let's not call this jazz, because it would alienate 99% of fans. But jazz, in truth, it is.
This exceptional live document finds legendary free jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders collaborating with cornetist Rob Mazurek and members of the Sao Paulo Underground and Chicago Underground Duo. Mazurek takes a leading role for the most part, joined by Sanders in his regular volcanic, spiritual state of playing and supported dutifully by percussionist Maurício Takara, drummer Chad Taylor, bassist Matt Lux, and multi-instrumentalist Guilherme Granado. The disc tends toward the more experimental and tumultuous side of things, with processed synth sounds clashing with the explosive organic instrumentation in a way that brings to mind Sun Ra's rudimentary synth experimentation on his early-'70s Saturn Records output.