Chicago Underground Duo - Boca Negra (Thrill Jockey, 2010) ****½
The Chicago Underground Duo, with Rob Mazurek on cornet and Chad Taylor on percussion, vibes and keyboards, is one of the many incarnations of the Chicago Underground Collective, besides the Trio and Quartet. This is a duo album, but because of the overdubs you sometimes have more than two instruments playing together, sculpting sounds and themes that some would call "post jazz", because it borrows from so many styles and techniques that the term jazz is no longer descriptive. Hence the title "Boca Negra", which means “Black Mouth”, a term coined in the Tenerife Canary Islands evoking the idea of an endless intake of information and also harks to the mouth of the volcano Tiede. In any case, it is again a fantastic album. The two musicians do not shy away from complexity, including shifting time signatures, odd rhythms, and sound explorations, with clever use of electronics, although the entire albums is quite accessible and very rhythmic.It all sounds simple, but it isn't. The greatest effect is created on Ornette Coleman's "Broken Shadows", on which Taylor plays drums and vibes simultaneously, the theme of which I did not immediately recognize when I first listened to it, but then I came to realise that the men broke down the theme into different parts, with one musician stopping, and the other one taking over, creating the real effect of broken shadows. The compositions combine atmosphere with drive, with playfulness, with repetitive minimalism, with meditative moments, with avant-garde adventure, ... the whole thing full of creative inventiveness, but above all, Mazurek's excellent playing of the cornet and Chad Taylor's excellent drumming. And a great production by Matt Lux.Highly recommended.