Primary Instrument: Band/ensemble/orchestra
The Chicago Underground Duo was once asked to describe their music. This is what they said: (The Duo is) an organic mixture of African, Electronic, Coloristic, Jazz influenced life supporting systematic, non-systematic feeling from two humans trying ever to expand outward and inward for the people and ourselves.
Here is the bio from their first release, Twelve Degrees of Freedom.
January 15, 1997 was a cold and snowy night in Chicago. At the Lunar Cabaret that evening, two Chicago Underground Orchestra members were beginning to hone their skills as a duo during what they would later describe as a magical evening. Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor are stalwarts on the Chicago Jazz front and have played with myriad artists.
On Duo, the two meld their various influences and talents to form a free-flowing, moon scaped recording. Taylor started playing professionally in Chicago at the age of fourteen. In 1991, he moved to New York. While in the Big Apple, Taylor performed with Lou Donaldson, Leon Parker, Junior Mance and Mark Turner. In 1993 he helped form the free improvisational group called the Life Ensemble. By 1996, he had decided to return to Chicago to participate fully in the development of the Chicago Underground Orchestra. Since coming home, Taylor has also played and continues to work with Fred Anderson, Ernest Dawkins, Art Ensemble of Chicago bassist Malichi Favors, and Billy Brimfield. Mazurek's tenure in the Chicago music scene spans over ten years. He has performed and recorded with many of the Windy City's leading musicians including Fred Hopkins, Tortoise, Gastr del Sol, Loren Mazzacane Conners and Jim O'Rourke.
Chicago Reader music critic Peter Margasak descibed Mazurek as having ...taken his playing towards the fringes...the assured muscle of Lee Morgan still pulses through his solos on more swinging material, the piquent phrasing of Don Cherry or the gorgeously abstract smears of Bill Dixon are just as likely to surface-though Mazurek is no mere composite of influences.
Here are some words about the s/t Chicago Underground Quartet record, released 6/01:
This self titled release is the debut as a Quartet for the Chicago Underground collective. In addition to the already established Chicago Underground Duo of Rob Mazurek (cornet, electronics) and Chad Taylor (percussion), the quartet model features Jeff Parker (Tortoise, Isotope 217) on guitar and Noel Kupersmith (Brokeback) on upright bass. For those familiar with the Chicago Underground Duo’s recordings, Parker and Kupersmith add a lush, organic tone to the proceedings: abstract sonics meet gorgeous melody in this extraordinary sound collage. The Chicago Underground Quartet merges sound from disparate worlds that collide and caress in unexpected ways. From the opening arpeggio figure of Tunnel Chrome to the free improvisations of Sink, Charge, Fixture to the futuristic moog melody of Nostalgia. Chicago Underground Quartet weaves sound that pleases. Recorded and Engineered by John McEntire at Soma Studios.
Mr. Mazurek and his friends are simply picking up where Miles Davis left off in his James Brown-meets-Stockhausen period of the early 1970’s. -New York Times on Axis & Alignment
Axis and Alignment is the seventh release by the collective known as The Chicago Underground, and third release as a Duo. Comprised of Rob Mazurek (Cornet, Electronics, Piano) and Chad Taylor (Percussion, Vibes, Guitar), the Duo can easily be seen as the workhorse of the bunch. They’ve logged the most releases and touring thus far, playing shows throughout the U.S, Canada, Europe and Japan over the last three years and maintained rigorous individual schedules. Rob remains a member of Isotope 217, and continues to collaborate with musicians in Chicago, and has flourished as solo artist both through his electronic endeavor Orton Socket and with the upcoming release of his solo record. Chad has remained active playing with Chicago jazz luminaries David Boykin, Fred Anderson and Jeff Parker, though he recently moved to New York, as well as lending his style to a few more traditional pop and rock outfits. These activities and influences all seem to bear themselves out over the course of Axis and Alignment and making the Duo’s output the most musically adventurous of all the Chicago Underground incarnations.
the Duo begin their shape shifting combination of techno-influenced polyrhythms, mixing with Mazurek’s cornet boldly wrapping itself around Taylor’s fluid percussion style. The Duo’s debut, 12 Degrees of Freedom was recorded live in Chicago and is a stark and minimal affair-a definite free jazz affair, but with their second record, the highly adventurous Synesthesia the two opened themselves up to an endless amount of possibilities. On Synesthesia the two introduced a number of sounds outside of strictly percussion and cornet into their mix, most notably experimenting with a variety of electronic instruments and samples. Synesthesia managed to seamlessly fuse jazz and electronica in a way that made perfect sense and with Axis and Alignment the Duo continue to perfect this mix. As the record unfolds the music comes through in signature Duo formats-less is more drumming and alienating hard bop/keyboard flourishes, yet never settles completely into one category or another. An abstract duet for piano and vibraphone, the song further shows that the ground under the Chicago Underground’s feet is still fertile. Dig the new tone science!