Performing in Aarhus, Denmark 2015
|Born||1965 (age 52–53)|
|Origin||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Genres||Jazz, Experimental, Avant-garde|
|Instruments||Cornet, Electronics, Piano, Boxes, Voice|
Rob Mazurek is an American electro-acoustic composer, cornetist, improviser and visual artist living in Chicago, Illinois.
Mazurek was born in 1965 in Jersey City, New Jersey, and played trumpet and cornet in high school in Naperville, Illinois. He first learned the foundations of improvised music while studying jazz theory and practice with David Bloom at the Bloom School of Jazz in Chicago, eventually working with other Chicago musicians like Kenny Prince, Robert Barry, Jodie Christian, Lin Halliday and Earma Thompson.
In 1996, Mazurek formed the longstanding Chicago Underground Collective with guitarist Jeff Parker and drummer Chad Taylor, a unit that ranges in size from duo to orchestra. The Collective earned Mazurek the attention of Chicago's underground community at the beginning of the 21st century, resulting in high-profile collaborations with other genre-defying artists like Gastr Del Sol, Jim O'Rourke, Sam Prekop, Stereolab and Tortoise. Isotope 217 (started by Jeff Parker) was consequently born from these endeavors.
While living in Brazil from 2000 to 2005, Mazurek constructed exotic soundscapes from the sounds of the Amazonian rain forest, including electric eels recorded at INPA research laboratory in Manaus and audio culled from storm systems on the outskirts of Brasilia. It was in São Paulo that Mazurek met Mauricio Takara and Guilherme Granado, his partners in the São Paulo Underground, a group dedicated to exploring and expanding upon Brazilian musical traditions.
Originally inspired by a joint commission from the Chicago Cultural Center and Jazz Institute of Chicago, Mazurek founded the Exploding Star Orchestra in 2005 to investigate Chicago's avant-garde musical traditions. The Orchestra has premiered a number of extended suites since its inception, including "Sting Ray and the Beginning of Time," "Cosmic Tomes for Sleepwalking Lovers," "Constellations for Inner Light Projections for Bill Dixon," "Stars Have Shapes," "63 Moons of Jupiter", "Transgressions Suite" and "Galactic Parables."
Mazurek 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, Alexandre Kassin, Marcelo Camelo, and others.
As a composer, Mazurek has written over 300 original compositions over the past 30 years, and has released at least 55 recordings on various labels including Aesthetics, Cuneiform, Delmark, Family Vineyard, Mego, Northern Spy, Submarine, Thrill Jockey, and his own label Infinity Dogs. Beyond his ensemble efforts, Mazurek's solo endeavors reflect his interest in musique concrete and electronic sound manipulation, with releases on Aesthetics, Bottrop-Boy, Delmark, Mego and Moikai that document his cornet playing augmented by computer programming, electronic effects and keyboards.
Mazurek has also been awarded a number of commissions and awards. In 2016, he received a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for an experimental film titled "The Farnsworth Scores" in collaboration with filmmaker Lee Anne Schmitt, which was shot at Mies van der Rohe's iconic Farnsworth House. In 2013, he was commissioned to compose the "Galactic Parables" suite by the Sant'Anna Arresi Jazz Festival in Sant'Anna Arresi, Sardinia, Italy. In 2011, he was commissioned to compose "Violent Orchid Suite" by the Jazz & Wine Festival in Cormons, Italy, and "Transgressions Suite", also by the Sant'Anna Arresi Jazz Festival. In 2010, he received the Commissioning Music/USA grant from Meet the Composer for a multi-media work developed in collaboration with video artist/choreographer Marianne Kim.
Additionally, Mazurek works as a visual artist (incorporating sound, painting and video) with numerous international performances, exhibitions and artist residencies. He has shown his multi-media works at locations throughout the United States and Europe, including the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, where his paintings hang on the office walls. His pieces have also appeared at Marfa Book Company (Marfa, Texas), Galleria Coletivo (São Paulo, Brazil), Abbey Royal de Fontevraud (Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, Anjou, France), Gantner Multi-Media Center (Bourogne, France), Heaven Gallery (Chicago, Illinois, USA), Naked Duck Gallery (New York, New York, USA), Le Grande Fabrique (Dieppe, France) and URDLA Centre Estampe et Livre (Villeurbanne, France).