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Chicago Underground Quartet

This self titled release is the first official Chicago Underground as a quartet, although Tortoise/Isotope 217 guitarist Jeff Parker has appeared on previous trio discs including last year's 'Flamethrower' as the fourth member within what was described as shifting trios within the quartet.

Thrill Jockey

With Parker's guitar contributions being much more prominent this time around, the overall vibe is very cohesive. The disc's nine compositions contributed from Parker, cornet player/leader Rob Mazurek, bassist Noel Kupersmith and drummer Chad Taylor vary from polyrhythmic orchestrations, beautiful ballads, free jazz and a touch of electronica. The opening track, Mazurek's "Tunnel Chrome", grabs the ear with it's 6/8 arpeggiation, cycling structure and subtle polyrhythmic drumming and burns right through to the end. Parker's "Three In The Morning" is one of the most graceful pieces of writing I've heard, with melodic lines and pleasing changes. The group's orchestration really enhances the composition. Taylor's "A Re-Occurring Dream" and the synth and 808 augmented "Total Recovery" are notable not only for the interesting writing, but that there are no drums present. Kupersmith's "wo ist der kuchen, mein frau" alternates from lilting guitar to heavy diggin' lines with unison bass and cornet with Taylor taking over on the vibes. Recorded tastefully by studio ace John McEntire at his SOMA Studios and mixed with the band, the overall sound is, as mentioned, very cohesive. I can only hope to see the quartet in a live situation, having seen the duo of Mazurek and Taylor produce a big sound on their own. Oh yeah, beware the disc's surprise ending on "Nostalgia".