‘I either like it or not’
‘What do you do?’ is a relatively simple question, but not when addressed to Rob Mazurek. Let’s see – he is a sound/vision abstractivist and he is a multi-media artist and plays the cornet. He collects sound from various sources including electric eels. In his list of formative influences, he cites music concrete, Miles Davis, Morton Feldman and Mark Rothko. Let us try to define the enigma that is Rob Mazurek.
Born in 1965 in New Jersey, USA, Mazurek works at the indefinable edge of interdisciplinary activity, making and manipulating music and images. His influences are eclectic. He describes having listened to Miles Davis ‘for hours and hours’ every day when he was 13 years old, includes Pierre Henry’s ‘music concrete’ in his list of formative musics and describes the encouragement offered to him as a young cornet player by Wynton Marsalis, who pointed him in the right direction by suggesting that he acquire a copy of Ornette Coleman’s ‘The Shape of Jazz To Come’.
His career began in relatively traditional fashion, attending the Bloom School of Jazz in Chicago and releasing his first recorded outing in 1994 on the Scottish Hep label. Finding that he felt limited by his quartet, he embarked on a voyage into the improvisatory unknown with the Chicago Underground Orchestra. This outfit in turn spawned a number of related ventures, including a Chicago Underground duo, a CT trio and a CT quartet. He also stepped into the ‘alt rock’ field, lending his cornet to Tortoise´s ‘TNT’ and Stereolab´s ‘Cobra’ among others. In 1997 came his Isotope 217 outfit, a sextet specialising in ‘jazz flourishes, muscular funk, hip-hop reductions, and minimalist electronica’.
Mazurek is also a visual artist and for the last thirteen years has been combining his skills in installation pieces. He is searching for synaesthesia: ‘trying to locate the frequencies that best correspond to colour’. Straying further into the realms of the uncharted, he wrote a piece for clarinet, tuba, cello, percussion, contrabass, cornet and computer which was entitled ‘Electric Eels’ (2004). Perhaps disappointingly, there were no electric eels appearing or featured in the piece. But he has also invented the ‘Electric Eel Light Box’ where ‘the light source is controlled by the frequency of the sound’, and the sound is the sound of electric eels. Only GEMA-registered eels are featured in this context.
He continues to maintain an internationalist perspective from his new home in Brazil, touring and recording with the São Paulo Underground and Exploding Star Orchestra, formed in 2005. In addition to his musical activity, he has exhibited at the Heaven Gallery in Chicago, at the Naked Duck Gallery in New York, and at the Gantner Multi-Media Center in France. In 2005 he was awarded a residency at the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud in France.
Something of an amateur gourmet, Mazurek enjoys the finest cuisine in his travels around the world – Ovali mushrooms in Italy, Croatian river fish and, in Germany, sausages. As slippery in interview as his beloved eels, Mazurek is asked about the European electronic music scene, and replies in iconoclastic fashion: ‘I either like it or not’. As in his art, various possibilities are acknowledged.
Born 1965 in Jersey City, USA
Sweet & Vicious Like Frankenstein
Exhibition / Installation
Consortium, Dijon, France
Gantner Center, Bourogne, France
DANK Museum: Rough Space Gallery, Chicago, USA
Alternate Currents: Empty Bottle, Chicago, USA
Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, Fontevraud, France
Troll Protocol (Helsinki, Barcelona, Toronto)
Heaven Gallery, Chicago, USA
Naked Duck Gallery, New York, USA
Open-End Gallery, Chicago, USA
Troll Protocol (Paris, Rome, Copenhagen, Brussels)
Sub/Sas exhibition, Sicily/Italy
Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, USA
Residency at La Grande Fabrique, Dieppe, France
Creative Connections Grant
Residency at the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud (Le Centre Culturel de L´Ouest), France
Grant of the Scottish Arts Council
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.