Daily Archives: March 28, 2011

The New York City Jazz Record review by Stuart Broomer

Dual Identity – Dual Identity (CF 172)Rudresh Mahanthappa and Steve Lehman formed Dual Identity as an alto saxophone duo in 2004, relatively early in their careers and before they had emerged as two of the most important musicians of their generation.There’s a special playfulness in any band fronted by two improvisers playing the same instrument, prodding one another further. This concert recording presents Dual Identity in its quintet form, with guitarist Liberty Ellman, bassist Matt Brewer and drummer Damion Reid. It’s a highly cohesive group with astrongly defined collection of compositions crafted by the two leaders. The complex rhythms of “Foster Brothers” or the sudden lyrical bursts of “Resonance Ballad” hinge on both an experimental approach to form and a conversational give and take, a specific focus on the alto saxophone line as it has come down through Charlie Parker and Eric Dolphy, Cannonball Adderley and Jackie McLean. The value of the individual voice is apparent in the very contrast between Lehman’s drier sound and the rounder warmer voice of Mahanthappa. The group language is a key factor here, most highly developed in the cleverly titled “Extensions of Extension of”, with Ellman, Brewer and Reid creating a minefield of conflicting directions beneath the horns. The performance concludes with the title piece and the way the group began, a sustained unaccompanied dialogue between the two altoists, answering one another’s phrases or running spiral lingscales, matching fluting harmonics with circular breathing to multiphonics, a dialogue rooted at once in the potential of the saxophone and the mutability of pitch and time.

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The New York City Jazz Record’s review by Clifford Allen

Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Coimbra Concert (CF 214)
Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK) is a quartet that’s endemic of the delicate balance between technique, experience and knowledge that is continually at play in this music. Fed by the unwavering pulse of chief composer Moppa Elliott’s usually pizzicato bass and the crisp, roiling flash of Kevin Shea’s drums (not as much random caterwaul as one might assume), the frontline is split between saxist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Peter Evans, two players who push the limits of traditional tonality in their instruments but who nevertheless maintain a steely reserve throughout. The real irony beyond their choice of artwork/image, punning titles (on four albums prior to The Coimbra Concert) and so forth is that behind all that MOPDtK are a focused and often coolly adept quartet powering through traditional reference and contemporary, immediate exploration at an often breakneck pace. Evans works in areas that pit fat, golden swagger, harrier flurries and muscular jounce against an equally intense, micro-sonic conception and in some ways could be seen as the quartet’s Lester Bowie figure considering how his runs trigger evocations from early small-group swing to stratospheric freedom. Irabagon’s tenor playing is measured, tensile post-Sam Rivers work while his sopranino on “Blue Ball”/“A Night in Tunisia” is a tour de force of circular breathing. MOPDtK are somewhat reminiscent of the Clusone Trio without being as historically strict; suite-like improvisations encapsulate action/motion and reference, albeit with a surgically exacting sensibility.