Rob Mazurek

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Rob Mazurek
Performing in Aarhus, Denmark 2015
Performing in Aarhus, Denmark 2015
Background information
Birth nameRobert Mazurek[1]
Born1965 (age 57–58)
OriginChicago, Illinois, United States
GenresJazz, Experimental, Avant-garde
Instrument(s)Cornet, Electronics, Piano, Boxes, Voice
Years active1983-Present
Member ofExploding Star Orchestra
Chicago Underground
Sao Paulo Underground
Pharaoh and the Underground
Pulsar Quartet
Rob Mazurek Quintet
Rob Mazurek Octet

Rob Mazurek (born 1965) is an American composer, cornetist, improviser and visual artist living in Chicago, Illinois.


Rob Mazurek is an American electro-acoustic composer, cornetist, improviser and visual artist living in Chicago, Illinois.[2]

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,[3] eventually working with other Chicago musicians like Kenny Prince, Robert Barry, Jodie Christian, Lin Halliday and Earma Thompson.[4]

In 1996, Mazurek formed the longstanding Chicago Underground Collective with guitarist Jeff Parker and drummer Chad Taylor, a unit that ranges in size from duo to orchestra. The Collective earned Mazurek the attention of Chicago's underground community at the beginning of the 21st century, resulting in high-profile collaborations with other genre-defying artists like Gastr Del Sol, Jim O'Rourke, Sam Prekop, Stereolab and Tortoise. Isotope 217 (started by Jeff Parker) was consequently born from these endeavors.[5]

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 upon Brazilian musical traditions.[6]

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.[7] The Orchestra has premiered a number of extended suites since its inception, including "Sting Ray and the Beginning of Time," "Cosmic Tomes for Sleepwalking Lovers," "Constellations for Inner Light Projections for Bill Dixon," "Stars Have Shapes," "63 Moons of Jupiter", "Transgressions Suite" and "Galactic Parables."

Mazurek currently leads a number of ensembles, including Exploding Star Orchestra, Pharaoh and the Underground (featuring Pharoah Sanders), Chicago Underground, Pulsar Quartet, São Paulo Underground, Skull Sessions, Sound Is Quintet, Starlicker, Mandarin Movie, and Throne of the House of Good and Evil, each of which possesses its own distinct musical personality. He has collaborated with a wide variety of artists, such as Bill Dixon, Pharoah Sanders, Mike Ladd, Roscoe Mitchell, Yusef Lateef, Fred Anderson, Naná Vasconcelos, Mamelo Sound System, Alexandre Kassin, Marcelo Camelo, and others.

As a composer, Mazurek has written over 300 original compositions over the past 30 years, and has released at least 55 recordings on various labels including Aesthetics, Cuneiform, Delmark, Family Vineyard, Mego, Northern Spy, Submarine, Thrill Jockey, and his own label Infinity Dogs. Beyond his ensemble efforts, Mazurek's solo endeavors reflect his interest in musique concrete and electronic sound manipulation, with releases on Aesthetics, Bottrop-Boy, Delmark, Mego and Moikai that document his cornet playing augmented by computer programming, electronic effects and keyboards.

Mazurek has also been awarded a number of commissions and awards. In 2016, he received a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for an experimental film titled "The Farnsworth Scores" in collaboration with filmmaker Lee Anne Schmitt, which was shot at Mies van der Rohe's iconic Farnsworth House. In 2013, he was commissioned to compose the "Galactic Parables" suite by the Sant'Anna Arresi Jazz Festival in Sant'Anna Arresi, Sardinia, Italy. In 2011, he was commissioned to compose "Violent Orchid Suite" by the Jazz & Wine Festival in Cormons, Italy, and "Transgressions Suite", also by the Sant'Anna Arresi Jazz Festival. In 2010, he received the Commissioning Music/USA grant from Meet the Composer for a multi-media work developed in collaboration with video artist/choreographer Marianne Kim.

Additionally, Mazurek works as a visual artist (incorporating sound, painting and video) with numerous international performances, exhibitions and artist residencies. He has shown his multi-media works at locations throughout the United States and Europe, including the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, where his paintings hang on the office walls. His pieces have also appeared at Marfa Book Company (Marfa, Texas), Galleria Coletivo (São Paulo, Brazil), Abbey Royal de Fontevraud (Fontevraud-l'Abbaye, Anjou, France), Gantner Multi-Media Center (Bourogne, France), Heaven Gallery (Chicago, Illinois, USA), Naked Duck Gallery (New York, New York, USA), Le Grande Fabrique (Dieppe, France) and URDLA Centre Estampe et Livre (Villeurbanne, France).[8]


as Chicago Underground[edit]

Year released Title Label Notes
1998 12 Degrees of Freedom Thrill Jockey
1998 Playground Delmark
1998 A Little House Clean Feed Records
1999 Possible Cube Delmark
2000 Flamethrower Delmark
2000 Synesthesia Thrill Jockey
2001 Chicago Underground Quartet Thrill Jockey
2002 Axis and Alignment Thrill Jockey
2004 Slon Thrill Jockey
2006 In Praise of Shadows Thrill Jockey
2007 Chronicle Delmark Trio
2010 Boca Negra Thrill Jockey
2012 Age of Energy Northern Spy
2014 Primative Jupiter Clean Feed With São Paulo Underground and Pharoah Sanders
2014 Spiral Mercury Clean Feed With São Paulo Underground and Pharoah Sanders
2014 Locus (Northern Spy) Duo
2000 A Night Walking Through Mirrors Cuneiform Records As Chicago London Underground
2020 Good Days Astral Spirits Records Quartet

as Sao Paulo Underground[edit]

Year released Title Label Notes
2006 Sauna: Um, Dois, Tres Aesthetics
2008 The Principle of Intrusive Relationships Aesthetics
2011 Tres Cabecas Loucuras Cuneiform/Submarine
2013 Beija Flors Velho E Sujo Cuneiform/Infinity Dogs
2016 Beija Flors Velho E Sujo Cuneiform/Infinity Dogs
2016 Cantos Invisiveis (Cuneiform) Cuneiform/Infinity Dogs

as Isotope 217[edit]

Year released Title Label Notes
1998 The Unstable Molecule Thrill Jockey
1999 Utonian Automatic Thrill Jockey
2000 Who Stole The I Walkman Thrill Jockey

as Tigersmilk[edit]

Year released Title Label Notes
2003 Tigersmilk Family Vineyard
2005 Tales From The Bottle Family Vineyard
2007 Android Love Cry Family Vineyard

as Exploding Star Orchestra[edit]

Year released Title Label Notes
2007 We Are All from Somewhere Else Thrill Jockey
2008 Bill Dixon with Exploding Star Orchestra Thrill Jockey
2010 Stars Have Shapes Delmark
2013 Matter Anti-Matter RogueArt With Roscoe Mitchell
2013 The Space Between Delmark As Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star Electro Acoustic Ensemble
2015 Galactic Parables: Volume 1 Cuneiform
2020 Dimensional Stardust International Anthem / Nonesuch Records
2023 Lightning Dreamers[9] International Anthem Recording Company[10]

as solo and others[edit]

  • 1994 Rob Mazurek Quartet Man Facing East (Hep)
  • 1995 Rob Mazurek Quintet Badlands (Hep)
  • 1997 Rob Mazurek Quintet Green & Blue (Hep)
  • 1999 Orton Socket 99 Explosions (Moikai)
  • 2002 Rob Mazurek Amorphic Winged (Walking Road)
  • 2002 Rob Mazurek Silver Spines (Delmark)
  • 2003 Rob Mazurek/Liam Gillick Thought Farming (En/Of [Bottrop-Boy])
  • 2004 Rob Mazurek Music For Shattered Light Box and 7 Posters (Bottrop-Boy)
  • 2004 Rob Mazurek Sweet and Vicious Like Frankenstein (mego)
  • 2005 Mandarin Movie Mandarin Movie (Aesthetics Records)
  • 2008 Rob Mazurek Abstraction on Robert D'Arbrissel (Adluna)
  • 2009 Rob Mazurek Quintet Sound Is (Delmark)
  • 2009 Rohrer/Mazurek/Takara/Barely Projections of a Seven Foot Ghost (Peligro)
  • 2010 Rob Mazurek Calma Gente (Submarine)
  • 2011 Starlicker Double Demon (Delmark)
  • 2012 Rob Mazurek Pulsar Quartet Stellar Pulsations (Delmark)
  • 2012 Rob Mazurek/Carlos Issa Eclusa (Submarine)
  • 2013 Rob Mazurek Episodes (Wapapura)
  • 2013 Rob Mazurek Octet Skull Sessions (Cuneiform)
  • 2014 Rob Mazurek Mother Ode (Corbett vs Dempsey)
  • 2014 Rob Mazurek Alternate Moon Cycles Waning Crescent (International Anthem Recording Co.)
  • 2014 Rob Mazurek Black Cube SP Return the Tides: Ascension Suite and Holy Ghost (Cuneiform Records)
  • 2015 Rob Mazurek Vortice of the Faun (Astral Spirits)
  • 2016 Rob Mazurek and Emmett Kelly Alien Flower Sutra (International Anthem Recording Company)


  1. ^ "Rob Mazurek". Discogs.
  2. ^ "The Wire Issue 354 - August 2013". 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  3. ^ Dugan, John. "Jazz Departments: Rob Mazurek - By John Dugan — Jazz Articles". Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  4. ^ "The Wire Issue 201 - November 2000". 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  5. ^ "Rob Mazurek @ All About Jazz". Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  6. ^ "Sao Paulo Underground: Beija Flors Velho E Sujo". 4 July 2013. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  7. ^ "Thrill Jockey". 2009-08-09. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  8. ^ Patrick, Michael (4 November 2011). "Rob Mazurek: Jazz Composer / Visual Artist Challenges Boundaries of Sound, Light, and Color | ALARM". Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  9. ^ Metacritic: Lightning Dreamers by Rob Mazurek Reviews and Tracks - Metacritic, accessdate: May 23, 2023
  10. ^ Jazz Album: Lightning Dreamers by: Jazz Album: Lightning Dreamers by, accessdate: May 23, 2023

External links[edit]