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Underground Evolution

Robert Grillo was a mere ten years old when he first picked up the saxophone. In junior high, he found himself playing in the school jazz band, but at 18, against the better judgement of his family and friends, he traded his sax in for a boom box. It was clear at a young age that Grillo would follow his own calling and not what others thought was best.

After attending a conservative high school, Grillo was eager to partake in the diversity of the inner city and sought a BA degree at Chicago's Roosevelt University, a culturally and ethnically diverse urban setting. The freeform curriculum allowed him to explore and define a strong interest in ancient history, film, and literature. After graduating, he spent a year in Italy, studying the Italian language by day and soaking in the music by night. He forged links with DJs and producers and developed an interest in progressive forms of urban music, notably ambient, house, and acid jazz. Upon his return to Chicago, Grillo began collaborating with Italy's Black Zone Records, an independent dance music record label based in Turin. He took on the role of finding manufacturing, distribution, and promotion for Black Zone's recordings. More importantly, he also had his hand in music production in Black Zone's recording studios.

In '95, together with other notable Chicago jazz musicians, Grillo began producing his own musical works under the name Underground Evolution. After several European releases on labels such as Peace Frog, Cyclo, and Defender, Underground Evolution garnered an association with a distinct urban sound, drawing on the influences of jazz, ethnic folk, and dance. It is a blend of the soulful and the esoteric, of the melodic and the experimental, and of the acoustic and the electronic. Both "Smoke and Mirrors," and "Eau Du Vie" illustrate Grillo's complete mastery over the machine combined with his acute sense of how live instrumentation should work with house music.

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