Thursday, June 26, 2014

Spiral Mercury Chicago/Sao Paulo Underground Featuring Pharoah Sanders, Pharoah & The Underground

There are some albums that, once you hear them, seem to be meant to be. Such is Spiral Mercury Chicago/Sao Paulo Underground featuring Pharoah Sanders and their album Pharoah & the Underground (Clean Feed 301CD). It's a set recorded live at the Jazz em Agosto Festival in Lisbon last summer.

The lineup puts together an inspired gathering of Rob Mazurek's Sao Paul Underground (Rob on cornet, electronics, flute, voice; Guilherme Granado on synths, samples, percussion, voice; and Mauricio Takara on cavaquinho, percussion, electronics) with Spiral Mercury Chicago (Rob plus Matthew Lux on bass guitar and Chad Taylor on drums) and Pharoah Sanders on tenor and voice.

This is all I can assume under the direction of Rob Mazurek. It sounds that way. He provides the compositions. As with Rob's later ensembles there is a very electronic ambiance to the music plus lots of freeplay and avant breadth. It's a perfect foil for Pharoah and he sounds energized, in fine form. Rob takes a fair share of the soloing as well and he sounds his usual adventurous self.

It's one of those sonoric extravaganzas Rob has been doing in recent years. Everyone pulls together to make a joyful, sometimes raucous noise. There is much in the way of texture, spaciousness and freetime swing, all together or in parts depending on the moment.

The themes are provocative. The band has leverage and an excellent sense of dynamics. So you get arcs of drama and feel throughout.

Just on the basis on Pharoah's presence alone this is a winner. Combine that with Rob and the very hip ensemble put together here and you have a sure-fire set of sounds for the future of yesterday, which turns out to be today! Hear this many times and you'll know that Rob, Pharoah and company are giving you some of the best out music of our time!

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