Arts & Entertainment Industry Forum: Rob Mazurek

Composer, musician, improviser, and multimedia artist Rob Mazurek performs live with his band, Black Cube (04/27/2014).

About Rob Mazurek

Rob Mazurek is an American electro-acoustic composer, cornetist, improviser, and multimedia artist. Known as one of today's most intrepid and sought after sound explorers, Mazurek works within a multitude of stylistic contexts. He first rose to prominence in the fertile mid-1990s Chicago creative music scene, quickly venturing beyond the traditional tenets of the jazz idiom to become one of the most compelling improvising composers of his generation.

Mazurek’s broad electro-acoustic palette defies simple categorization and has earned him praise in the DownBeat Critics Poll, recognition as International Musician of the Year in Italy’s Musica Jazz magazine, and Top 10 Records in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune. The August 2013 and November 2000 editions of The Wire magazine feature Mazurek on the cover and describes him as a prolific and venerable force in new music.

His expansive vision and vast catalogue of over 350 compositions and 61 recordings have kept him on the cutting edge of creative music for the past three decades. Mazurek's solo endeavors utilizing modular synthesizer, electronics, an assortment of keyboards, and computers reflect his interest in musique concrete and electronic sound manipulation. Solo records, released on Corbett vs. Dempsey, Delmark, Moikai, Mego, Astral Spirits, and Adluna, highlight the breadth of his virtuosity and creativity from exotic melodies to experimental noise. His multimedia works often involve solo performance with visual scores and exhibitions of his video, painting, lithography, and sculpture.

Mazurek also leads and composes for a wide variety of ensembles, including Exploding Star Orchestra, Chicago Underground Duo, São Paulo Underground, Black Cube SP, Pharoah & the Underground (featuring Pharoah Sanders), Alternate Moon Cycles, Jeff Parker + Rob Mazurek, Thollem / Mazurek, and his newest project, Chicago / London Underground (featuring Alexander Hawkins and John Edwards). His collaborations include a wide cross section of leading figures and ensembles in jazz, electronic, rock, and improvised music, including the late Bill Dixon, Yusef Lateef and Fred Anderson, Pharoah Sanders, Roscoe Mitchell, Naná Vasconcelos, Mike Ladd, Jim O’Rourke, Kevin Drumm, Emmett Kelly, Sam Prekop, and Isotope 217.

Mazurek has received a number of commissions and awards from top festivals and institutions throughout North America, South America, and Europe including: SESC of São Paulo, Brazil, The Frankfurt Jazz Festival of Frankfurt, Germany, the Sant’Anna Arresi Festival of Sardinia, Italy, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage of Philadelphia, PA, the Chicago Cultural Center of Chicago, IL, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, IL, The Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Foundation of Chicago, IL, and The Robert D. Bielecki Foundation of New York, NY, among others.

More than a prolific composer, Mazurek is increasingly recognized by major arts institutions as an accomplished visual artist and has received a number of grants and commissions for multi-media projects and collaborations. In 2016, he was awarded a grant from Chicago’s Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts for a film shot in collaboration with Lee Anne Schmitt at Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth House. In 2015, Marfa Book Company presented “Marfa Loops Shouts and Hollers,” a solo exhibition of paintings, sculpture and sound by Mazurek. In 2013, he received a residency at the famed URDLA Centre International Estampe & Livre in Villeurbanne, France where he realized four 3D lithographs to be used as graphic scores for improvisation. In 2010, Mazurek received a Commissioning Music USA grant from New Music USA for a multi-media work developed in collaboration with video artist and choreographer Marianne Kim. In 2005, he was awarded a prestigious artist residency at the French Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, which gave him the opportunity to hone his interest in multimedia works.