“Heat the Silent” by MUMEx Duo

Heat the Silent is the ambitious seven track work from the MUMEx Duo, an one of a kind jazz outfit featuring the talents of Mauro Salvatore on drums and Louis Siciliano on piano. It isn’t the duo’s first collaboration and those familiar with their prior work will likely agree that the new album rates as the tandem’s greatest recording yet.

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It will be difficult to surpass on basis of scope alone. Siciliano’s avowed intent with Heat the Silent’s seven performances is nothing less than a sort of jazz symphony about the music itself and split into distinct “movements” – i.e. songs. It sounds like an inert, un-musical idea on the surface but the duo share the classic near-telepathic bond that select musicians are lucky to manifest. It keeps these performances free-flowing, malleable, and passionate.

There are many colors in this release. It opens, however, in black and white mode with “Variations on ‘Estate’”. The MUMEx Duo structures the opener in an incremental fashion – Siciliano doesn’t show his whole hand at once but, instead, reveals the song’s central melodic motifs over time. It isn’t as concrete as many listeners like and long for, but it has a cumulative effect listeners won’t soon forget.

Heat the Silent reaches its first unquestionable zenith, however, with the third track “Thelonious”. An obvious reference to jazz giant Thelonious Monk, it’s another song with exceptional structural merits and flawless transitions from one section into the next. The production captures the duo in full-flight without ever slighting one instrument in favor of the other. Salvatore’s drumming is especially exceptional – his manipulation of the piece’s tempo is nothing short of masterful.

The collection’s title cut is another of the album’s zeniths. “Heat the Silent” doesn’t spark with nearly the same fire heard during “Thelonious”. It adopts the incremental approach of the album opener but the arrangement is far fuller than “Variations on ‘Estate’” sparse musical landscape. Attentive listeners will hear the collection taking shape over time, the exploration of various jazz styles, and note how Salvatore and Siciliano are on convincing musical footing throughout each one.

“Beyond the Eight Door”, however, takes listeners to another level. This is the indisputable peak moment for many as the duo take the plunge into richer waters than any of the song’s predecessors. It bears connection to the earlier “Thelonious”, but the MUMEx Duo is far more unbridled here. “Variazione Senza Fine” is the album’s meditative conclusion and opens with some of Siciliano’s finest piano playing on Heat the Silent. Salvatore’s presence in the arrangement ebbs and flows as the track progresses, but his late contributions are the most pivotal by far. Structure, for a final time, separates the duo’s work from other similarly themed acts.

It helps make Heat the Silent essential listening for any jazz fan. Novices may struggle with some of the album’s more overtly challenging arrangements, but newcomers can still spin the album’s seven tracks and get a meaningful listening experience out of the endeavor. It’s the MUMEx Duo’s most impressive achievement to date.

Chadwick Easton


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