Starlicker is a trio composed of cornet player Rob Mazurek (Chicago Underground Duo/Trio/Quartet and Exploding Star Orchestra, among others), vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz (also of Exploding Star Orchestra), and drummer John Herndon (Tortoise). The music these three men produce is jazz with a powerful rhythmic drive; Herdon's drumming throughout the disc is pummeling and constant, setting up a sturdy floor upon which Adasiewicz dances as Mazurek floats in the air. His melody lines are fluid and his tone is full; he avoids the swirling abstractions of his work alongside the late Bill Dixon in favor of almost-hard bop blowing.
Cornetist, improvising composer, and visual artist Rob Mazurek has made his presence felt on the Chicago scene for the past couple of decades, but it seems like the larger jazz and creative music world hasn’t got a complete hold on his work. It’s surprising, considering the breadth of his art — from orchestras to small groups of varying personnel, not to mention his membership in the brass ensembles of composer Bill Dixon (1925-2010). Perhaps it has to do with the fact that his cross-pollinating approach isn’t as attractive to the supposedly boundary-critical improvising vanguard.
If you are able to keep up with Chicago trumpeter Rob Mazurek’s various side projects, you will know that his new band Starlicker is comprised of three members from his Exploding Star Orchestra. So if you take a 14-piece supernova group and reduce it to a trio, you have something that licks stars. Do with that what you will. The three men in question (who also participated in last year’s Stars Have Shapes) are Mazurek, vibraphonist Jason Adasiewicz, and drummer John Herndon.