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Exploding Star Orchestra : We Are All From Somewhere Else

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This album’s three-part performance, written by Chicago Underground cornetist Rob Mazurek, apparently corresponds to a story that begins with exploding stars and incorporates the life, death and travels of a stingray, and conversation with electric eels. That may be, but the opening minutes made me think of something entirely different: music from 1970s police dramas. As someone who lost interest in The Rookies and Ironside after the opening title, this is far from a bad thing.

Mazurek gathered 13 strong players from the Windy City to play his two suites and an interlude, which combine driving vamps, multiple melodic layers and free improvisation with animals. The aforementioned opening of “Sting Ray and the Beginning of Time” finds low-end trombone, vibes and guitar churning away beneath Nicole Mitchell’s soaring flute. The third section of the piece actually finds the group improvising freely with tones created by electric eels. Although it’s hard to distinguish humans from beasts, the collaboration yielded some strong free blowing.

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