At a time when the world is mired in divisiveness, a time of wall-building and fear-mongering, it takes visionaries to build bridges rather than tear them down. “This is protest music,” insists Rob Mazurek. “It always has been. That’s why it’s called ‘Underground’ - it’s not just called that for fun. We really believe in it. The world has become so homogenized and leans so far towards the right, and this music expresses complete freedom and lack of borders. Our music is all about the obliteration of any kind of oppression, the tearing down of any kind of wall - freedom and equality, both sonically and spiritually.”
For the last two decades the Chicago Underground Duo Rob Mazurek and Chad Taylor have created music meant to open minds and explore alien territory.
Now, on A Night Walking Through Mirrors, they’ve created a new Transatlantic partnership in the form of Chicago / London Underground, inviting a pair of renowned British improvisers Alexander Hawkins and John Edwards into the creative fold. The result is an expansive sonic adventure whose every unexpected note and alchemical reaction runs counter to the limited imaginations ruling social media name-calling and clannish provincialism.
To celebrate the occasion of the duo's 20th anniversary, Mazurek and Taylor invited two London-based artists with whom they’d never collaborated but they deeply admired.
“We love their playing and thought they’d be a nice complement to what we do,” Mazurek explains. When it comes to the rare occasions when he and Taylor do bring other musicians into the fold, he continues, “The only criteria is people who are completely open to anything, no matter how outlandish or crazy the idea is. They just have to be 100 percent into the moment and what we’re doing.”
“Alexander Hawkins is a very dynamic player,” Mazurek says. “His harmonic and melodic sense as well as his phrasing and his approach to playing, whether songs or free playing, are very interesting and wide-ranging. John Edwards plays the most amount of bass I’ve ever heard anybody play. He plays a lot but nothing is wasted; it all means so much. They could go anywhere, so it was just a matter of being in the moment and letting the instincts roll. It was powerful, elegant, noisy, melodic, rhythmic, free - it had all the elements that usually come up when you think about making a complete and interesting set.”
Hawkins and Edwards are newcomers to one of Mazurek’s longest-running musical partnerships. “We’re sonic and spiritual brothers,” Mazurek says of his profound partnership with Taylor. “It’s a special relationship, one of those cosmic things where it just works. It’s amazing that we’ve kept it going this long and hopefully we’ll continue for another 20 years.”
The album’s title, A Night Walking Through Mirrors, is an evocative fit for this exploratory set, capturing the sense of alluring disorientation, of sympathetic worlds upon worlds echoing into infinity. “It really felt like we would be playing and somebody would take a left turn and we’d be in another dimension,” Mazurek recalls. “Another person would take a right turn and we’d be in yet another dimension, but everybody was right there. It really did feel like a night spent walking through mirrors in that respect.”.
A Night Walking Through Mirrors press release