The Venn diagram of modern music aficionados and those that listen to jazz isn’t something you expect to see pop up too often. There are the folks with a background in high school band (jazz, concert, or marching) that carry it with them as a torch, sure, but for the most part, the modern jazz listener feels almost extinct. For MUMEx Duo’s Louis Siciliano & Mauro Salvatore, however, there’s seemingly no concern for their audience size or devotion. The craft of jazz is a tightrope, and there’s simply no time for those crafting it to look down and count the size of a crowd. They’re doing it for themselves and themselves alone, and that my dear friends, is how genuine art comes to exist.
Siciliano and Salvatore’s latest, Heat the Silent, is a rambunctious foray into contemporary jazz. You’d be slight to find any coffeehouse easy listening here, as each song contained within the album’s seven-song tracklist confronts and challenges the audience; the challenge is half the battle, and each song is as layered and detailed as it is rewarding. The album’s opening movement, “Variations on Estate,” is a soft nudge of complex tempos and melodies that will not hold listeners’ hands as they enter the world of MUMEx Duo. Make it past this, however, and a world of riches is set to greet your earbuds. “When All the People Are Sleeping” is a soft, levelheaded come down to the previous track. Its gentle percussion is as mesmerizing as it is skilled. “Thelonius” does its namesake proud and immediately shifts the album into a much higher space of energy, and for good reason.
The duality between the highest and lowest energy pieces of Heat the Silent demand just as much attention. “Heat the Silent” once again brings the audience back down to Earth with style and panache, dancing the line between chaos and creation. “Joe’s Island” acts as Heat the Silent’s longest track at ten minutes, and brings in intricate and vulnerable vocals that completely transform the project. “Beyond the Eighth Door” is delirium in a bottle, its haywire composition appearing as perhaps the most off-kilter and astonishing track from the project. Bringing Heat the Silent to its finale on “Variazioni Senza Fine” is a perfect choice, as the soft piano lulls listeners in for one last ride hot off the heels of the manic energy that preceded it; the gentle energy eventually erupts into a finale worthy of all of the fine work Siciliano and Salvatore have given listeners, and it isn’t long before listeners are given the key to finding their way out of the dingy jazz club, released into the early morning sun.
Heat the Silent is an album demanding an audience without ever really saying a word, and there’s no doubt it’ll find its crowd in due time. It’s hard to imagine anyone seeing Siciliano and Salvatore live walking away with anything less than a religious experience in tow, but who’s to say — it isn’t every day a modern jazz album comes to the surface, and when it does there’s generally very little meat to chew on. Heat the Silent, on the other hand, is a five-course dinner and dessert. Give it time to digest.
Photo Credit: Mario Coppola