Chicago cornetist and composer Rob Mazurek brings seven compositions to a new recording by his Pulsar Quartet, Stellar Pulsations (Delmark) . Like Mazurek, pianist Angelica Sanchez, bass guitarist Matthew Lux and drummer John Herndon on drums, all are members of the acclaimed Exploding Star Orchestra and bring their talents to the compositions that mix melodic freedom in shifting contexts that range from emphasizing lyricism as well as bring order to what sounds like chaos. In his liner notes, Jeff Parker observes “The music is all about sound: sound as matter, visual sound,sound as motion, sound in motion. This music is four individuals moving together through and within time, creating color that is sound.”
The titles of the seven compositions on Stellar Pulsations refer to the various planets in our solar system although one does not have to be a science fiction disciple to appreciate the performances. Mazurek has a bright tone, although often playing in an introspective manner. Still he is capable of blazing furies as on the opening Primitive Jupiter, with pianist Sanchez’s use of chords and thundering lines adding aural contrast to the leaders play while the rhythm duo rumbles underneath. In contrast Magic Saturn displays a more lyrical side to Mazurek and his quartet with him making very nice use of a mute.
Spiritual Mars opens in a free manner with the leader floating over the free backing. Drummer Herndon takes a solo break on this before the group rides this out quite energetically. Its perhaps the most ‘out’ performance on Stellar Pulsations. Spiral Mercury, features more vibrant playing with excellent solos form Sanchez and Mazurek, while Spanish Venus has a relaxed feel with more lyricism from the leader’s use of a mute as well as Sanchez’s spare piano.