The MUMEx Duo, drummer Mauro Salvatore and pianist/composer Louis Siciliano, level up with their new release Heat the Silent. The pair’s prior work has always pushed the envelope of what defines jazz, modern jazz, what have you, but Heat the Silent ratchets up the intensity. Siciliano’s ambition and talent are running neck and neck as he is trying nothing less than to encapsulate the history of jazz and his creative vision for its future during this course of this seven song work. These are not brief or easily digestible compositions; anyone serious about gauging the success or failure of Siciliano and Salvatore’s attempt will have to make multiple passes through this work.
The first blow you out of your seat moment comes with the album’s second song “When All the People Are Sleeping”. This is as close to standardized “smoky jazz” as you are likely to hear Siciliano come and it burns with a white hot inner flame that draws listeners into its heat. It doesn’t so much as burn, however, as simmer. Siciliano unreels one lyrical line after another during the course of the performance and listeners will especially enjoy how he plays with the song’s tempo.
“Thelonious” is one of the album’s undoubted highlights. Salvatore lays down a wicked layered groove behind Siciliano’s piano with its cascading chords and restless rhythmic shifts. This is a song in virtual constant movement. The pair definitely does a credible job invoking the genre’s mid-20th century rambunctiousness with more than just mechanical fidelity – they feel these songs and its affects the performances accordingly. The title song recalls the album opener in its more experimental use of space. The MUMEx Duo aren’t in any hurry developing the ideas in this song but, instead, take an exploratory tilt many listeners will appreciate.
“Joe’s Island” has a similar exploratory heart. It follows a darker path, however, than its predecessor and ventures deep into minor chord territory. It introduces listeners, as well, to their sole encounter with vocals on the album. It is lyric-less scat singing but nonetheless adds a dollop of demented despair to the performance. “Beyond the Eight Door”, however, kicks down that said door and opens listeners to a firestorm of musical innovation that threatens to knock your block off.
Salvatore is the star of this particular show. His command of the kit is complete from the start of the performance and he invokes a virtual mandala of beats and counterpoints. It may leave some listeners a bit breathless and makes for a powerful album climax. The falling action of sorts, Heat the Silent’s final performance “Variazione Senza Fine” has elegiac yet assertive flair. Anyone doubting the song’s assertiveness should listen to how Siciliano and Salavatore conclude the track, but the overall mood punctuates the piece as nothing else could.
He’s set a high bar for himself and his art, but Siciliano should come away from this project feeling like he’s made significant strides towards repaying whatever debts he owes classical Afro-American music. His profound love for the form is nothing less than a tacit and beautiful admission he would not be the human being he is without hearing, playing, and studying that music. His work Heat the Silent with Mauro Salvatore stands as a reminder of that love.
Photo Credit: Mario Coppola