Music Program

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 8:00 p.m.

$15 general admission, $12 students/seniors, $10 members

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São Paulo Underground

(São Paulo/Chicago)

Sao Paulo Undergroundphoto: Yiannis Soulis
Rob Mazurek (cornet, electronics)
Guilherme Granado (keyboards, synths, sampler, voice)
Mauricio Takara (percussion, cavaquinho, electronics)

"Limitless in its possibilities." — Rolling Stone

"Post digital, post industrial psychedelia." — The Wire

"A modern approach to Brazil's Tropicalia." — All About Jazz

São Paulo Underground is an electronica-laced tropicalia funhouse, a secret passage between Chicago's volatile avant garde jazz scene and Brazil's teeming creative capital.

Featuring Chicago 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.

In 2006, Rob Mazurek (Exploding Star Orchestra, Black Cube SP, Pulsar Quartet, Rob Mazurek Octet) and Mauricio Takara (M.Takara 3, Hurtmold) released the group's debut album, Sauna: Um, Dois, Trê̂s, to much international acclaim, and began performing live as a duo. In 2008, with new members, Guilherme Granado (Bodes e Elefantes, Hurtmold) and Richard Ribeiro, the ensemble released their second album The Principle of Intrusive Relationships, which was rated among the Top 50 Records of 2008 by The Wire. The third record, Trê̂s CabeÇas Loucuras, also features the quartet and was released by Cuneiform in 2011. Trê̂s CabeÇas Loucuras was listed among the top 10 records of 2011 in Time Out Chicago.

In its latest incarnation, São Paulo Underground is a power trio that includes Rob Mazurek on cornet and electronics and the two native Paulistano's, Mauricio Takara on drums and cavaquinho and Guilherme Granando on keyboards, samplers, electronics and voice. The group is a post-modern orchestra, marked by glistening sonic textures, seductive eletronica beats, unabashedly beautiful melodies, an expansive improvisational palette and fiercely gleeful interplay. The fourth and most recent record, Beija Flors Velho E Sujo, released by Cuneiform in June 2013, is a potent program of new material honed during a 2012 North American tour. The record captures the 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.

Dauntless sonic explorers, São Paulo Underground 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 observes.

Since 2010, São Paulo Underground has also been touring as part of Pharoah and the Underground, a sextet that features Pharoah Sanders on tenor saxophone and includes Chicago Underground members Chad Taylor (Marc Ribot Trio, Side A and Digital Primitives) on drums and Matt Lux (Iron and Wine, Isotope 217) on electric bass guitar.

"…São Paulo Underground has definitely found its footing, nailing an elusive meeting place between continents. The post-Don Cherry melodic splendor of Chicago cornetist Rob Mazurek has never been clearer, and it finds a simpatico home amid the polyrhythmic chaos forged out by his Brazilian cohorts. This high-energy romp takes the sting out of the term fusion in the best possible way." — Peter Margasak, Downbeat

Sao Paulo Underground
Rob Mazurek is an American electro-acoustic composer, cornetist, improviser and visual artist living in Chicago, Illinois. Working within a multitude of stylistic contexts, Mazurek rose to prominence in the fertile mid-1990s Chicago jazz scene, quickly venturing beyond the traditional tenets of the idiom to become one of the most compelling improvising composers of his generation.

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. The Collective ranges in size from duo to orchestra and still performs and records nearly 20 years later. The Collective earned Mazurek the attention of the Windy City's underground community at the turn of the Millennium, resulting in high-profile collaborations with other genre-defying artists like Gastr Del Sol, Jim O'Rourke and Sam Prekop.

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 musical tradition.

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's reach has since expanded to incorporate musicians from across the US and Brazil.

Mazurek currently leads, composes for and performs in a number of his ensembles, including Exploding Star Orchestra, Pharoah and the Underground, Chicago Underground Duo, Black Cube SP, Pulsar Quartet, São Paulo Underground, Skull Sessions Octet, each of which possesses its own distinct musical personality. He has collaborated with a wide variety of artists, such as Bill Dixon, Pharoah Sanders, Roscoe Mitchell, Yusef Lateef, Fred Anderson, Naná Vasconcelos, Mike Ladd and others.

Considered one of the leading voices in the new post-Tropicalia wave of Brazilian music, São Paulo native Mauricio Takara, has performed and recorded with an array of artists. From Brazil, key connections include Nacao Zumbi, Vanessa Da Mata, Sabotage, Naná Vasconcelos and Marcelo Camelo. On the international scene he has collaborated with heavyweights such as Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Yusef Lateef, and Prefuse 73. Besides Rob Mazurek's São Paulo Underground and Exploding Star Orchestra, Takara has also worked with other Chicago-connected artists such as Josh Abrams, Jason Adasiewicz, and John Herndon. Born in 1982, Takara started playing the acoustic guitar at the age of seven. Two years later, he took up drums. He played with local hardcore punk bands throughout the '90s and started Hurtmold in 1998, releasing five records on the Submarine label. He released the first of five solo albums for Desmonta Discos in 2003. Takara has toured Europe (Sonar festival/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 and Milton Nascimento at Coquetel Molotov Festival).

Guilherme Granado is a leader in Brazil's growing electronic spiritualism vanguard, devoted to promoting new music, beats and ideas in Brazil. Born in São Paulo and raised in the punk electronic tradition, but knowledgable about Brazilian and world music, he is the bass synth motor for São Paulo Underground. He regularly performs with artists and ensembles including Prefuse 73, Naná Vasconcelos, Tulipa Tanto, Marcelo Camelo, Pharoah Sanders, and Exploding Star Orchestra. Granado has released three records under his solo project, Bodes and Elefantes, and is an integral member of the influencial Brazilian rock group Hurtmold.

Hallwalls Music Program is made possible through public funds from the Music program of the New York State Council on the Arts & the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.