Nearly a decade ago, trumpeter Rob Mazurek's Chicago Underground project sought to bring avant-garde jazz to the mainstream via the Windy City's Thrill Jockey Records, then one of the country's most adventurous indie labels. Even without widespread public accolades, the group soldiers on, and its new release, In Praise of Shadows, is its most austere to date. Originally a quartet, then a trio and orchestra, Chicago Underground is now the duo of Mazurek and Chad Taylor; the former focuses on piano, cornet, and noise box while Taylor handles percussion. Their contributions are mixed into seven eerily quiet excursions sometimes interrupted by Mazurek's sharp, jagged trumpet interpolations. True to its title, In Praise of Shadows doesn't possess a grand statement, just a series of detailed paintings made from shades of sound.
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