Louis Siciliano’s piano and Mauro Salvatore’s drumming are enough to sustain any serious music fan’s interest when hearing MUMEx Duo. Their latest album release Heat the Silent is, in important ways, much more personal fare than anything the duo has yet recorded under this moniker. Siciliano seems practically driven during some points in this release, pushing his piano to greater and greater heights, and Salvatore’s high-velocity work behind the kit is as effective as any of his more nuanced contributions. The tandem pulls from an extraordinary frame of common reference to craft one of the best jazz releases in recent memory.
They broker no compromise, however. Opening with “Variations on ‘Estate’” seldom conforms to any sort of recognizable rules of composition and instead follows its own emotional yet coherent path towards its conclusion. It sets a standard for the remainder of the album in one way, if no other, thanks to how it doesn’t run on too long. There’s an argument to be made that the Duo’s latest release, in part due to its emotional foundation, has potential to be their most accessible yet and the length of these compositions plays an important role as well.
“When all the People Are Sleeping” moves in a variety of directions. There is a blue undertow present in much of their work here without ever running into cliché. Casual listeners often possess a very narrow idea of jazz as a form so work such as this is ideal for newcomers in key ways. It can confound while still catching the ear. “Thelonious” is a wild and wooly tribute to the jazz pioneer of the same name and it’s evident, even with a single listen, that this is one of the album’s performances running especially deep for the performers.
“Heat the Silent” continues the album’s tradition of unlikely juxtapositions with its contrasting lines and willingness, if not outright insistence, on following their Muse wherever it may lead. In this case, it leads them to one of the album’s finest moments. It’s an ideal spot to mention how well they use space to accentuate the musical value of their pieces and the deep dialogue they share as musicians allows them to achieve this.
“Beyond the Eight Door” and the finale “Variazione Senza Fine” are quite a closing tandem. The former challenging the cliff-dancing creative spirit of the earlier “Thelonious” with an equally, if not more so, freewheeling excursion into the musical possible. It is Salvatore, however, who makes so much possible for these performances, as Siciliano freely admits, thanks to his melodic drumming quite unlike any other player today.
The latter is more of Siciliano’s showcase, at least for much of its first half, but the second part veers into far more percussive territory. The track echoes many of the motifs present in earlier performances without ever directly referencing any. It’s a strong closing statement for one of the duo’s best works yet and proves they are far from finished. There’s more of the same, but better, in the pipeline.