Here's another winner from the good folks over at Cuneiform Records. Skull Sessions is the latest from the Rob Mazurek Octet, and features the stellar musicianship from this large cast of talented musicians:
Rob Mazurek: cornet, ring modulator; Nicole Mitchell: piccolo, flute, voice; John Herndon: drums; Jason Adasiewicz: vibraphone; Mauricio Takara: cavaquinho, percussion; Guilherme Granado: keyboards, electronics; Thomas Rohrer: rabeca, C melody saxophone; Carlos Issa: guitar, electronics.
Big band? Yes, and they make use of all these instruments to create a thick, dense wall of alluring jazz throughout Skull Sessions. Any fan of late '60s/early '70s Miles Davis is sure to love what's going on here, as soaring solos stab through the maelstrom on such daring, churning, almost free-jazz pieces like "Galactic Ice Skeleton" and "Voodoo and the Petrified Forest". Rohrer's rabeca (a Brazilian viola) and Mazurek's cornet really being the star on a few of these tracks, but there's also plenty of room for wild flute, sax, vibe, and drum solos throughout. Many of the moods are dark & dense, the arrangements thick & complex, but if you appreciate jazz that's free and borders on the avant-garde, you'll love every minute of this dissonant, mass of poly-rhythms. "Skull Caves of Alderon" even reminds a bit of mid-'70s Frank Zappa, with the quirky use of vibes, scratchy rabeca, and flute taking the piece to somewhat melodic, big band heights before it all comes crashing down in a chaotic, noisy climax.
Those who prefer the more melodic side of the jazz spectrum most certainly will find much of Skull Sessions quite jarring, but if you have an ear for sounds that fall off the beaten path, there are lots of rewards hidden here.
1) Galactic Ice Skeleton
2) Voodoo and the Petrified Forest
3) Passing Light Screams
4) Skull Caves of Alderon
5) Keeping the Light Up