Louis Siciliano and Mauro Salvatore’s MUMEx Duo are an increasing rarity in the modern musical landscape. The fact they are staunch purveyors of jazz sets them apart, of course, in an exploding world of bubblegum popular music. It is their passion for their art, however, that makes them stand out most for me. Heat the Silent isn’t a simply a collection of recorded musical performances but, instead, a statement. The seven tracks included on the tandem’s new release are an exploration of seminal influences, equivalent to the “back to their roots” albums so many longtime rockers and their ilk invariably record, but yet informed by a higher calling.
Siciliano does not view this as a vocation. It is his life’s work. Such a feeling, placed within a jazz context, can often lead to an eagerness for smashing barriers and pushing an artist’s music into areas it may not have otherwise enjoyed. “Variations on ‘Estate’” begins the release in decidedly avant-garde mode compared to the rest of the release. Siciliano’s piano practically erupts with brief blasts of melody that Salvatore’s percussion burnishes with splashes along the way.
“Thelonious” will be a peak moment for many as I believe this is where the album’s first takes flight. The preceding songs set the stage for this flowering and it is all but impossible to not feel the inspiration radiating from this piece. It’s ablaze. It is, also, an undoubtedly challenging musical piece and to hear how they shape its potential pitfalls into rewards for listeners makes it an all the more invigorating musical experience.
“Joe’s Island” ventures further toward the edge than ever before. The confidence, however, pays off as it gives the duo license to reel through one series after the next of highly improbable changes that they pull off without fail. Interplay is the underpinning for the two, honed by countless unrecorded hours that we’ll never hear, and that forms the foundation of everything they do. It likely has few finer expressions of that than “Joe’s Island”.
“Beyond the Eight Door” is more experienced than heard. It comes across as a near-dance of sorts, a catastrophe in freefall yet choreographed for maximum effect, and will stand out for many as the duo’s best moment. The introduction is a note perfect way of bringing us into this controlled madness and the fluctuating momentum further peppers the overall effect. The finale “Variazione Senza Fine” is extraordinarily well conceived. The melancholy yet lyrical opening of the song explores a variety of moods before transforming deep in the track’s second half and assuming a darker hue.
The range of emotion and color emanating from this collection positions it as one of the finest expressions of modern jazz you’ll hear for some time. Siciliano has a firm grasp on the wide gamut of “languages” exist within the style and his fluency along with Mauro Salvatore’s allows MUMEx Duo to go in whatever direction they like. Heat the Silent is the latest superb entry in the pair’s growing discography.