Sao Paulo Underground: the name a riff, of course, on Rob Mazurek’ Chicago Underground outfits but one appropriately pointing south. This time out the now Brazil-based composer and cornetist (also: pianist, “computerist,’ painter, multi-media artist, and Isotope 217 and Mandarin Movie member) partners with percussionist and electronic programmer Mauricio Takara (Hurtmold, M. Takara) who he befriended during a 2005 Brazil tour. The pair’ improvs are about as bold, explorative, and experimental as one might imagine, with Mazurek’ cornet babbling freely within a maelstrom of percussion flourishes, disembodied voices, and ambient computer stew.
Though the 50-minute set’s rooted in Sao Paulo (where it was recorded between August and November 2005), guests from Chicago and New York (The Eternals’ Wayne Montana and Damon Locks, Town & Country’ Josh Abrams, and Chicago Underground drummeister Chad Taylor) also appear, thickening the sonic gumbo even more. â€œPombaralâ€ rolls out with an elephantine swing, Mazurek’ at-times Cherry-esque horn leading a swaggering march through dense drum undergrowth. Mazurek and Takara work up hazy collisions between ambient noise and percussion during the first half of â€œOlhossssâ€¦â€ before jumpstarting the groove in the second with some pulsating electronic voodoo and muted horn chatter. Episodes of free jazz, dub, electronic experimentalism (e.g., the sliced’n’diced voice-edited outro), and African juju emerge throughout the trip, with the rambunctious percussion-horn fusion in the spirited â€œAfrihouseâ€ offering perhaps the quintessential representation of the duo’ approach. In both sound and spirit, Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres at times recalls Live-Evil, a similarly challenging journey Miles undertook into the experimental jazz jungle some thirty-six (!) years ago. Props to Mazurek for following Mandarin Movie with a slightly more accessible yet still uncompromising collection.