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Monday, July 8, 2024

Rob Mazurek - Milan (Clean Feed, 2024) *****

By Gary Chapin

Mazurek is one of the most expansively-minded improvisers/composers/condition creators out there in the world, with the number and variety of settings within which he places himself being vast (yeah, that feels like a fair word). Here the ostensible trumpeter—and he is a great trumpeter—takes on his horn, piano (prepared and un), sampler, and a horde of little instruments (including a “yellow bucket”) to stack up 53-ish minutes of improvised quest music.

According to the notes, Milan is part of a series or ongoing project of Mazurek’s to record solo unaccompanied extravagances at radio stations throughout the world. I quibble with “unaccompanied,” because Mazurek is accompanying himself throughout — it’s unimportant to the parameters of the project or its “authenticity,” but important to the outcome. The music has a reckless coherence, disparate things rhyme with each other, they speak with similar accents. These come from Mazurek having conversations with himself. It really is the best of both worlds, the purity of a solo vision, with a simultaneous, wildly imaginative interlocutor.

The piano is the stand out voice for me, though the jangly, rattly, asonic percussion is most pervasive. The piano seems to be the gravity well of a number of the tracks, creating a thick, dense thread that runs throughout. Ametrical repetition creates a ritualistic break from reality. Since the early days of the AACM, I’ve loved “little instrument” excursions. Mazurek carries that tradition through this work.

Milan is walking on a different side of the street from Mazurek’s Exploding Star work (which I’ve fallen deeply in love with) or his São Paulo Underground (ditto), but it’s the same street. Execution, arrangement, and production are all outstanding. Five stars.


David Cristol said...

Spot-on review of a great record from an inescapable force in creative music.