The MUMEx Duo’s “Heat the Silent”

The MUMEx Duo’s Heat the Silent is a diverse seven track jazz collection exploring almost the genre’s full gamut. Louis Siciliano and drummer Mauro Salvatore’s approach is a bit purist for some, perhaps, but those listeners would do well to remember that what they now deem purist was utterly renegade and iconoclastic a short time ago. Siciliano’s piano essentially drives the release, but Salvatore’s comprehensive command over the drums opens vistas for these performances not possible with typical percussionists.



Listeners hear the first evidence for Salvatore’s suitability on “Variations on ‘Estate’”. The seemingly fragmentary nature of the composition soon adds up to far more than the sum of its individual parts and the ghostly presence of Salvatore’s percussion brings inexplicable depth to the song. “When All the People Are Sleeping” takes listeners into familiar territory; even casual jazz fans will recognize the blue strands laced throughout this track. Salvatore’s presence is more pronounced here, but it’s nuanced.

It’s nuance of a much different flavor when we come to “Thelonious”. Siciliano and Salvatore rev up their engines here and push their performance and compositional excellence to the limit thus far on Heat the Silent. Turning from the virtuoso pyrotechnics of this track into the title song is a study in contrast. “Heat the Silent” occupies a deliberate place in the track listing, the midway point, and serves as a pivot point into the album’s second half. It’s a mix of the various styles we’ve heard thus far.

“Joe’s Island” is cut from a similar cloth. There’s a distinctly more intense, minor key note prevalent in the song without ever sounding like too stark of a break with the album’s character so far. It’s the album’s longest piece, running over ten minutes, but the duo shows yet again they possess the necessary artistry to sustain longer pieces. “Beyond the Eight Door”, like the earlier “Thelonious”, is one of the album’s shorter songs, but action-packed. Siciliano opens the track with his piano before the duo thrusts listeners into the song’s world. The trip is worth each second.

The finale “Variazione Semza Fine” embraces the same aesthetic driving the opener, title song, and “Joe’s Island”. It has a valedictory mood during the performance’s first half, but its gradual transformation into a near symphonic splendor during the second part of the song closes Heat the Silent on an emphatic note. The MUMEx Duo has built a reputation as one of the best jazz units, albeit small, working today because they take chances and have unquestionable skill.

Heat the Silent is the latest example of that, but certainly not the last. Each of the album’s seven tracks practically burns with a sense of daring you seldom hear. They have established a creative partnership that is durable and self-sustaining; neither player ever seems like they are at a loss for ideas. Even if you are far from a hardcore jazz fan, MUMEx Duo deserves your attention as one of the best pure musical tandems emerging in recent memory. They’ll be around for a while and we’re better off for it. 

Michael Rand

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