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Chicago Underground Trio: Chronicle

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Jason Ajemian’s opening bass solo sets the tone: Built primarily around a densely packed series of fierce double-stops with a few single-string flails thrown in, it stutters and lurches forward in boxy, asymmetrical patterns, as if Ajemian intends to throw down a gauntlet against the very notion of “swing.” As percussionist Chad Taylor and cornetist/electronicist Rob Mazurek join in, the sonic landscape deepens and expands. Taylor provides texture, depth and variegated timbral contrasts; Mazurek’s growls and blats expand the “elephantine” metaphor suggested by Ajemian’s thunderfoot bass attack.

This set captures a 2006 performance at Chicago’s German Cultural Center. But Mazurek and engineer Todd Carter also tweaked and embellished the original tracks a bit during postproduction, “attempting,” as Mazurek tells us in Peter Margasak’s liner notes, “to blur the lines between live and not live.” That blurring is most evident on “Power,” on which Taylor’s unobtrusive but pungent drum seasonings become slowly eclipsed by an electronic firestorm of jagged edges, chirps, cheeps and burbles that intensifies into a full-scale cyber-hallucination.

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