Exploding Star Orchestra, We Are All From Somewhere Else

Steve Smith

By Steve Smith

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

We Are All From Somewhere Else

Exploding Star Orchestra
Electric eels and stingrays, rocketships and cosmic journeys: it’s all here!

From hard bop and free jazz to post-rock and electronica, globetrotting cornetist-composer Rob Mazurek has covered a lot of musical ground over the course of his career to date. Commissioned in 2005 by the Chicago Cultural Institute and the Jazz Institute to create a project representing the wilder fringes of contemporary music in the Windy City, Mazurek assembled the Exploding Star Orchestra, a 14-piece ensemble with double rhythm section. We Are All from Somewhere Else neatly combines Mazurek's myriad interests into a sprawling three-part fantasy based on a storyline about electric eels and stingrays, rocketships and cosmic journeys. Unsurprisingly, the spirit of Sun Ra looms large, especially in the boisterous, untidy clamor that opens “Cosmic Tones for Sleep Walking Lovers,” the disc's second extended suite. But the satiny big-band sheen of Quincy Jones and the motorik drive of Tortoise are also part of this exuberant celebration. Mazurek's music favors ensemble improvisation rather than extended soloing; even so, flutist Nicole Mitchell, flugelhorn player Corey Wilkes, trombonist Jeb Bishop and guitarist Jeff Parker all get space to shine.