Universal acclaim - based on 10 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 10
  2. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. CUD aren’t the first or best among many, but what you can hear when you listen to Boca Negra--in addition to a really excellent neo-jazz record--is the sounds of a band improvising while actually not really improvising. They’re unconsciously pulling from something rich and energetic and fundamental to the way we appreciate music.
  2. There was a time when it seemed anything emanating from a Chicago zip code was essential. That time may have passed, but if you're in any way interested in atmospheric, exploratory music that creates worlds as it progresses, seek Boca Negra out.
  3. Boca Negra is certainly not the easiest entry-route into the post-jazz catacombs of the Chicago Underground, but its steely determination and non-conformity is nevertheless refreshing and worthy of respect.
  4. This isn’t just sonic research; it’s a real album, paced and considered. It feels good.
  5. Boca Negra is the most sophisticated and improvisationally complex recording CUD has ever recorded, while easily being its most accessible.
  6. Mazurek is a trumpeter and Taylor a drummer, but each contributes via electronics as well. Despite that augmentation, and that the Orchestra has been more an imagined community than an album-releasing entity, Taylor and Mazurek sound lonely.
  7. Some purists may wonder if this extraordinary music is really jazz, but at its weird and wonderful heart, Boca Negra belongs to the tradition of Sun Ra, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and other fine jazz works from that weird and wonderful tradition.
  8. Boca Negra isn’t an album that’s easy to get acquainted with — this is music designed to induce a fundamental paradigm shift in our expectations of what a band can be and how they should operate, with two accomplished players bringing agitation and affection together at an uneasy meeting point.
  9. The group used to flirt more often with jazz and electronica, but when those elements show up here, such as with the groove on “Spy” or the digital glitchy noodling on “Roots and Shooting Stars,” the flirtation falls flat; the thrill is gone. The elements that feel most familiar to the group's past sound are the elements that matter the least.
  10. My high expectations for Boca Negra, misguided as they were, have been consoled, if not met, by the realization that if any act can legitimize avant-jazz beyond its narrow niche (never mind my aforementioned doubts), Chicago Underground Duo have the verve and creativity to enable it.

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