Chicago's Sao Paulo Underground merges jazz and electronics in astounding ways, with Rob Mazurek on cornet, harmonium and various effects, Guilherme Granado on keyboards, synths, sampler and vocals, and Mauricio Takara on percussion, cavaquinho and electronics.
Sao Paulo Underground
Beija Flors Velho E Sujo
Released in: USA
"São Paulo Underground isn't just an international musical conspiracy. It's an electronica-laced Tropicalia funhouse, a secret passage between Chicago's volatile avant garde jazz scene and Brazil's teeming creative capital, an intoxicating state of mind where Sun Ra lays down in a field of giant poppies with Ol' Dirty Bastard to debate whether the Wizard of Oz is full of juke or jive.
Featuring Chicago improv maestro Rob Mazurek on cornet, harmonium and various effects, and São Paulo's Guilherme Granado on keyboards, synths, sampler and vocals, and Mauricio Takara on percussion, cavaquinho and electronics, SPU delivers its fourth revelatory album Beija Flors Velho E Sujo. The album is SPU's second album for Cuneiform.
In its latest incarnation, SPU is a power trio and a post-modern orchestra rolled into one, marked by glistening sonic textures, seductive eletronica beats, unabashedly beautiful melodies, an expansive improvisational palette and fiercely gleeful interplay. A potent program of new material honed during a 2012 North American tour, "Beija Flors" captures an ensemble hitting a fierce creative stride. Ecstatic, roiling and utterly unpredictable, the music flows from three distinct musical personalities united by "the idea of infinite love, the idea of breaking through to the other side through sonic power and beauty," says Mazurek, a veteran disrupter of genre conventions.
Rather than stretching out for extended improvisational flights, the trio delivers a series of brief blasts, each brimming with musical incident. "Beija Flors" explodes from the first track with the audacious "Ol' Dirty Hummingbird," an uproarious, disorienting free for all that opens up to reveal hidden depths, with a series of stately processions led by muted cornet and ambient synth. As the piece mysteriously circles back to the beginning, hinting at infinite returns, the trio reveals its trickster heart, "a real tribute to the master Ol' Dirty Bastard," Mazurek says.
SPU offers a loving embrace of another inscrutable sonic explorer with "ArNus NusAr," a slow accumulation of celestial sounds that quickly attain self-sustaining gravitational force. The album's longest track is a spiraling episodic journey that gradually segues into Harold Arlen's immortal theme of dreamy, utopian displacement, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," a development as surprising as it is through-the-looking-glass appropriate.
The celebratory "Evetch," a brief Carnival theme powered by Takara's supple, twangy cavaquinho, is a booty shake in honor of the powerhouse Bahian axé star Ivete Sangalo, "an absolute de-construction and re-fitting of what is possible when a melody is let loose with tigers hot on the trail," Mazurek says.
"Basilio's Crazy Wedding Song," a swaggering tune conceived for the director of Sardinia's Santa Anna Arressi Jazz Festival, surges with fecund energy. The tune crests with "a joyous rhythm that could be straight out of a Mickey Spillane story if it took place on an a tropical island in Nowheresville," Mazurek says. The album roars to a close with "Taking Back the Sea is No Easy Task," a piece that bucks, snorts, and gallops "over the side of an abyss that SPU thrives on," Mazurek says. "It's the constant idea of beauty and de-composition in the most beautiful of ways, like an African violet making love to a coca leaf."
The São Paulo Underground was born in the first year of Mazurek's long Brazilian sojourn, when he met Takara, the group's co-founder. Built upon their duo, SPU released its mindbending debut with 2006's Sauna Um Dois Tres (Aesthetics Records), a session that established the ensemble as a singular São Paulo/Chicago axis, with contributions by Hurtmold, Marcos Axe, Tiago Mesquita, Wayne Montana, Damon Locks, Josh Abrams, and Chad Taylor. Following up with 2008's Principle of Intrusive Relationships (Aesthetics Records), the band expanded to a quartet with Guilherme Granado and drummer Richard Ribeiro. By the time the group recorded its 2011 Cuneiform debut Três Cabeças Loucuras, Ribeiro was gone and SPU took its present form as an expansive trio.
Dauntless sonic explorers, SPU continues a relentless search into the mysteries of sound. "Sound has such potential, and needs to be split, cracked, slammed, caressed, kissed, sunk, buried, catapulted into new dimensions in order to begin a dialogue of the universes," Mazurek says. "What is hidden is more powerful sometimes than what is actually heard, the energy accumulated over time and thought and action. The power for the sound comes through when you take the simple particle of the thing and radically transform it through beauty and noise and time and everything between to project flocks of birds into the blue sky." "-Cuneiform
• Show Bio for Mauricio Takara
"Sao Paulo native Mauricio Takara, born in 1982, started playing the acoustic guitar at the age of seven. Two years later, he started playing drums. Takara played with local hard core punk bands throughout the '90s and started Hurtmold in 1998, releasing five records on the Submarine label. He put out his first solo album on Desmonta Discos in 2003 and has since released three more solo recordings on the same label, the latest bein g 2010's Sobre Todas e Qualquer Coisa . Takara has recorded with many Brazilian artists, including Nacao Zumbi, Vanessa Da Mata, Sabotage, Naná Vasconcelos and Marcelo Camelo, as well as such renowned international artists as Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, and Prefuse 73 . Besides Rob Mazurek's São Paulo Underground, Takara has also worked with such other Chicago - connected projects and artists as Exploding Star Orchestra, Jason Adasiewicz, and John Herndon . Takara has toured Europe (Sonar festi val/Barcelona, Roskilde/Denmark, Womex/Seville & Club Transmediale/Berlin), the U.S., India (World Socials Forum) and Brazil (Nublu Jazz Festival, SESC Pinheiros, and opening for Lo Borges & Milton Nascimento at Coquetel Molotov Festival). Takara is consid ered one of the leading voices in the new post - Tropicalia wave of Brazilian music."-Cuneiform Records 2/22/2017
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• Show Bio for Guilherme Granado
"Guilherme Granado, a Sao Paulo native, has played and recorded with Takara in Hurtm old (4 albums and a split disc with The Eternals on Submarine Records) as well as working with the Assembleia Ritmica de Pinheiros . Additionally, Granado performs, produces, and records under the name Bodes & Elefantes, which has released 3 albums on Subma rine Records & Catune. He has toured with Prefuse 73 and Marcelo Camelo, and collaborated with a global array of artists including Pharoah Sanders, Naná Vasconcelos, Bill Dixon, Roscoe Mitchell, High Priest (Antipop Consortium), Mamelo Sound System, Explod ing Star Orchestra, Paulo Santos (Uakti), Mike Ladd, and many others. Granado has appeared on recordings released by Universal, YB Music, Submarine. Granado is in the vanguard of Brazil's Electronic Spiritualism Sound Makers, devoted to promoting music, b eats and ideas in Brazil."-Cuneiform Records 2/22/2017
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• Show Bio for Rob Mazurek
"Rob Mazurek is an American electro-acoustic composer, cornetist, improviser and visual artist living in Chicago, Illinois. As a composer, Rob Mazurek has written over 300 original compositions over the past 30 years, and has released 55 recordings on various labels. He currently leads a number of ensembles, including Exploding Star Orchestra, Pharoah and the Underground (featuring Pharoah Sanders), Chicago Underground, Pulsar Quartet, São Paulo Underground, Skull Sessions, Sound Is Quintet, Starlicker, Mandarin Movie and Throne of the House of Good and Evil, each of which possesses its own distinct musical personality.
He has collaborated with a wide variety of artists, such as Bill Dixon, Pharoah Sanders, Mike Ladd, Roscoe Mitchell, Yusef Lateef, Fred Anderson, Naná Vasconcelos, Mamelo Sound System, Kassin and Marcelo Camelo and others. Additionally, Rob Mazurek works as a visual artist (incorporating sound, painting and video) with numerous international performances, exhibitions and artist residencies."-Rob Mazurek Website (http://robmazurek.com/)
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Catalog ID: Rune 359
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Packaging: Jewel Tray
Recorded by Greg Norman at Electrical Audio, B Room, Chicago, IL on September 26th-27th, 2012.
Mauricio Takara-percussion, cavaquinho, electronics
Guilherme Granado-keyboards, synths, sampler, voice
Rob Mazurek-cornet, Evolver, ring modulator, analog delay, harmonium
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1. Ol' Dirty Hummingbird 4:34
2. Into The Rising Sun 2:35
3. Annus Husar 7:47
4. Over The Rainbow 3:05
5. Evetch 2:31
6. Six-Handed Casio 4:04
7. The Love I Feel For You Is More Real Than Ever 3:16
8. Basilio's Crazy Wedding Song 3:00
9. A Arvore De Cereia É Ausente 3:01
10. Taking Back The Sea Is No Easy Task 4:34