Sao Paulo Underground | Szold Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | International | Chicago Reader

Sao Paulo Underground Recommended Tickets Available All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Image

When: Sun., Sept. 30, 7 p.m. 2012

On last year's Tres Cabeças Loucuras (Cuneiform), cornetist Rob Mazurek and his band Sao Paulo Underground finally tapped into the musical traditions of their namesake city, in the process making their best album by far. Mazurek started the group in the mid-aughts while living in Brazil, and their first two albums combined rich, noisy textures, fierce rhythms, and his post-Miles Davis blowing. On the new one his two main partners, keyboardist and percussionist Guilherme Granado and drummer and multi-instrumentalist Mauricio Takara, play a larger role, which includes injecting explicitly Brazilian flavors—Takara in particular composed two of the album's strongest pieces and played lots of cavaquinho, a sweet-toned four-string lute common in samba music. (That's not to say there's anything approaching a traditional samba on Tres Cabeças Loucuras.) On the gorgeous album opener, "Jagoda's Dream," Mazurek renders the pretty melody with a clear tone and generosity of spirit that recalls Don Cherry, another horn man who experimented with the combination of jazz improvisation and global sounds; as the song's Carnaval beats begin to hint at the chaos of free jazz, so does the fury of Mazurek's playing. "Pigeon" is based on a traditional maracatu piece, but its fuzzed-out keyboards, cornet overblowing, and clattering percussion make it one of the most abstract tracks on the album. And though Takara's buoyant "Carambola" could almost be a lost choro classic, with lots of upbeat acoustic strumming, it's battered by synthesizer splatters, dubby pings, and distortion-ravaged horn blasts that create a delicious tension. Several guests beef up the recording, but for this tour SPU is Mazurek, Takara, and Granado. —Peter Margasak See also Wednesday.  

Price: $18, $16 in advance

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