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Tag Archives: jon irabagon
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.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Coimbra Concert (CF 214)
Enero de 2011. Cambio de década y cambio de discográfica para los Most Other People Do the Killing: de Hot Cup, el sello de Moppa Elliott (contrabajista y líder del grupo), pasan a Clean Feed. También cambia el método de grabación: The Coimbra Concert es un doble CD grabado en directo a lo largo de dos conciertos el 28 y 29 de mayo de 2010 en la ciudad portuguesa.
El repertorio está formado mayoritariamente por temas de sus cuatro grabaciones anteriores: uno de cada uno de los dos primeros discos del grupo (Mostly Other People Do the Killing y This Is Our Moosic), dos de Shamokin!!!, cuatro de su última grabación en estudio (Forty Fort), más un tema inédito. El grupo explota su enorme potencial en directo, lo que logra que el disco sea algo más que un recopilatorio en directo al uso.
Peter Evans y Jon Irabagon están especialmente brillantes, aunque todo el cuarteto se muestra sumamente creativo en directo. Los temas, que en algún caso supera los treinta minutos, se sabe cómo comienzan (toman el título de la composición que sirve para iniciar la descarga creativa), pero por fortuna no cómo acaban: en ellos aparecen otros temas compuestos por Moppa Elliott, citas de clásicos, nuevas melodías y composiciones instantáneas.
En esta ocasión el disco clásico homenajeado en la portada y las fotos interiores es el Koln Concert de Keith Jarrett. La lástima es que don Leonardo Featherweight no nos obsequie con una de sus habituales liner notes. Por fortuna, y a pesar de esto último, el resultado es la obra más redonda hasta la fecha de los MOPDtK.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Coimbra Concert (CF 214)
Gravado no festival Jazz ao Centro, em Coimbra, este disco duplo em registo “live” dos Mostly Other People Do the Killing reflecte fielmente aquilo que aconteceu durante aquelas noites no Salão Brazil. A banda de “be bop terrorista” reinventa-se em cada concerto e em cada momento, e cada composição é apenas o início de algo maior, que pode incluir inúmeras citações de outras melodias (“standards”, temas históricos), subtilmente introduzidas, ou descambar numa brutal confusão sónica (apenas aparente), para depois encarrilar em uníssonos perfeitos de volta à melodia, tudo parecendo fácil.
Este magnífico edifício é aguentado pelo talento incrível dos quatro músicos: Peter Evans é um génio do trompete (ponto final, não é preciso dizer mais nada), Jon Irabagon é um enorme saxofonista criativo (ouça-se o fulgor imparável do recente “Foxy”), Moppa Elliott torna o contrabaixo um instrumento flexível (é ele o líder do projecto e autor dos temas) e Kevin Shea mantém o nível na bateria com uma poderosa energia rítmica.
Tal como nos seus discos anteriores, a capa deste replica um clássico da história do jazz, sendo agora o alvo “The Köln Concert”, de Keith Jarrett. Mas a ligação à história não se fica pela brincadeira gráfica: cada tema dos MOPDtK reflecte, de modo mais explítico ou encapotado, a história do jazz, nas múltiplas referências e no modo de colar tudo e de fazer a música soar coerente e tão bem. O jazz contemporâneo, entusiasmante e simultaneamente consciente do passado, é isto. Brilhante e magnífico, do princípio ao fim.
Mostly Other People Do The Killing – The Coimbra Concert (CF 214)
In the manner of John Zorn’s albums, Naked City and Spillane, the quartet, Mostly Other People Do The Killing uses a dose of humor on outside to draw you in and once the doors are shut–the music lets loose. Mostly Other People Do The Killing just by the name, will draw you to the album if you’re in a record store or flying around online. Their album covers are a homage (detractors may say send up) of their influences (Ornette Coleman, Roy Haynes, among others) but at it’s core, this is a group that is as fierce, improvisational and engaging as they come on today’s scene.
It’s only been seven years but it feels like MOPDTK have been together 20 years. While the band was conceived by bassist, Moppa Elliott, they act as a free flowing unit with no clearly designated leader. And that’s what makes them even more exciting.
Their latest release, The Coimbra Concert, their debut for Clean Feed Records, is probably the best installment of their manic personalities come to life. And it’s well worth your investment. Recorded live in Brazil last year, the album cover pays tribute to the legendary, Keith Jarrett Koln Concert (ECM Records). But let’s dive into the music.
Covering material from all four of their previous albums (mainly coming from the last three) MOPDTK showcase their innate ability of playing point/counterpoint but still enabling the listener to find the melody as evident on the frenetic but beautiful “Round Bottom, Square Top.” This is almost a New Orleans swing that quickly goes off the rails but you go with it and the results are phenomenal. “Drainlick”, for me, has a John Zorn quality that is chaotic but exquisitely composed Moppa Elliott. Peter Evans and Kevin Shea rip through chord changes at a dazzling pace while Irabagon and Elliott and some rich texture around the outside making this highly compelling piece and you get that up close, live feeling.
While improvisation is the key to this quartet you still get an element of humor an homage as evident in the mid passage of “Blue Ball” (from their fourth album Forty Fort) when the band breaks in a very different tempo of “A Night In Tunisia” (from their second album Shamokin’). The funky yet avant garde “Pen Argyl” also from Forty Fort, immediately takes its outset from Coltrane’s A Love Supreme but blends in elements from New Orleans, New York and beyond. A crafty mixture that is a lot fun to absorb. “Elliott Mills” taken from the group’s first album, albeit the shortest track on the album is still a wonderful bit of deconstruction of jazz theory by this quartet that must be heard to be believe.
In many ways, a live show is the best way to experience an artist or group. It’s only then that you get the full breath and vision of their compositional thought. And with The Coimbra Concert that is exactly what you get with Mostly Other People Do The Killing. For me this would be the album I would recommend venturing to first. You will get a huge understanding of the band and be able to experience music from all of their albums. Then of course you need to go back a get the studio albums as well. So don’t let their artwork and song titles fool you. Mostly Other People Do The Killing mean business and they do it quite well.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Coimbra Concert (CF 214)
The stand-up comic begins, “I went to a day of rage riot the other day, and a Moppa Elliott concert broke out.” He might continue with, “Take my jazz canon, please.” That is just what the bassist’s quartet, Mostly Other People Do The Killing, does—seize the jazz standard and demolish it. The Coimbra Concert is the first live recording by the group, following its fourth studio record, Forty Fort (Hot Cup, 2009).
Just as beboppers were criticized for ruining swing music, and before that swing for stepping on traditional jazz, the members of MOPDTK are the villains in any neoconservative diatribe. Like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie’s bebop revolution, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Peter Evans can skate circles around just about any performer playing music today, as evidenced on Irabagon’s Foxy (Hot Cup, 2010), with drummer Barry Altschul, and Evans’ Scenes In The House Of Music (Clean Feed, 2010), with free jazz heavyweights Evan Parker, Barry Guy and Paul Lytton.
The nucleus of these two live dates from May 2010 are bassist Elliott’s compositions and drummer Kevin Shea’s versatile and elastic playing. Each piece seemingly begins with a theme but, before long, MOPDTK’s attention deficit creates disorder. You are as likely to hear “Night in Tunisia” played in double time (on “Blue Ball”) as you are pieces of John Coltrane’s “Acknowledgement” (on “Pen Argyl”) and some Pink Floyd (“Round Bottom, Square Top”). The players don’t dishonor the jazz tradition as much as they reverse gravity it into their black hole of music, devouring all styles and techniques.
The band switches between a New Orleans’ marching band on “Round Bottom, Square Top” to a piano-less Miles Davis/Coltrane ensemble on “Factoryville,” that morphs a blues into an Indian raga with a ringing telephone. Elliott and Shea create the latitude for Irabagon and Evans’ flights of freedom and extended technique soloing, and their talent is immense.
Like Muhammad Ali defeating the then heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in 1964, the new champions, armed with speed and style, can easily humiliate all comers of the (now) old schools of jazz.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing in Huesca
Fecha: 15 de febrero de 2011
Lugar: Centro Cultural del Matadero, Huesca
De un modo similar a lo que pasa en la física de partículas, la música del cuarteto Mostly Other People Do The Killing funciona (de momento) en tres niveles de energía. En el primero, el menor, está la de sus discos en estudio. En el segundo están las grabaciones de sus conciertos, discos en directo como el recién editado The Coimbra Concert (Clean Feed). En el tercero, el más elevado, está su directo.
En cada uno de esos niveles encontramos una serie de elementos comunes con el nivel siguiente. En el más bajo están las composiciones de su líder Moppa Elliott y también su habilidad en elegir las versiones; un gran sentido del humor (las portadas parodiando a discos clásicos; los títulos de las canciones que no son otros que nombres de ciudades de Pensilvania, o las delirantes liner notes de Leonardo Featherweight); también cuatro instrumentistas sobresalientes.
En el segundo nivel aparece la combinación de esos temas del líder del grupo con composiciones instantáneas y citas de clásicos, así como estilos de lo más dispar en un tótum revolútum que, en teoría y según los cánones, posiblemente no tenga mucho sentido, pero que en forma de grabación no sólo genera una música arrebatadora, sino que ha logrado que el grupo dé a luz su mejor obra.
En el tercer nivel la suya se transforma en la música de la sorpresa. Ahí están esos músicos impresionantes. En Huesca destacó especialmente Peter Evans, que demostró ser un virtuoso de la trompeta. Sobre el escenario del Matadero dio una lección de dominio técnico de su instrumento a todos los niveles, pero sin que su discurso quedase supeditado u oculto por ello. El segundo gran protagonista fue el baterista Kevin Shea. Sobre él no se puede decir que sea un virtuoso o un fino estilista. Sin embargo su discurso encaja a la perfección con el del grupo. Es nervioso, inquieto, y ayer con sus sonidos pregrabados se dedicó a dirigir por momentos al conjunto en sus improvisaciones. También fue el protagonista del momento más divertido de la noche con un original solo de codos sobre los parches ejecutado con una intensidad propia del más energético de los grupos del rock más energético. Hasta sus gafas, que salieron volando y por lo que parece terminaron indemnes, sintieron la high-energy que es capaz de acumular. El saxofonista Jon Irabagon fue el compañero ideal de viaje de Peter Evans. Además de con sus solos se enzarzó en unos magníficos intercambios con el trompetista, idea va-idea viene, aunque no estuvo tan potente como se le ha llegado a escuchar en alguna grabación reciente, en concreto en Foxy.
En cuanto a la música, no se miente si se afirma que es la de siempre (las composiciones de Moppa Elliott con sus estructuras de blues y giros habituales en el jazz como lanzaderas), como tampoco se haría si se dijese que es totalmente nueva. Las piezas se forman a partir de la recombinación no prefijada de antemano de las composiciones de Moppa Elliott que hace que los temas se sepa cómo empiezan pero no cómo terminarán, versiones sorprendentes como la interpretada en Huesca de un tema de David Sanborn, las citas de temas clásicos del jazz y también de la clásica o la mezcla de estilos: New Orleans, be-bop, cool, hard-bop, libre improvisación, free, funk.
Finalmente está Moppa Elliott. En segundo plano, sonriente y tranquilo, es el líder que sin dejar de dirigir deja hacer a sus compañeros, confiado y feliz puesto que sabe que todo está en buenas manos.
Acaba de comenzar 2011 y ya tengo a un candidato más que firme a concierto del año. Moppa Elliott comentaba al final del concierto que en verano es posible que vengan a dar unos cuantos conciertos en festivales, citaba el de San Sebastián, aprovechando su gira estival europea. Si se me acepta el consejo, si alguien tiene la oportunidad de ir a verlos en directo que no se los pierda.
Clean Feed Records and Mary Halvorson: Promises of Good Things to Come in Jazz
If you’re looking ahead in 2011 at what the year—or the coming decade—holds in jazz, then 2010 gave us two stories that portend thrilling music ahead.
First, there is a relatively new record label that seems dead-set on unleashing the full-on floodgates of adventurous improvised music at every turn. Clean Feed, based in Lisbon and founded in 2001, has become nothing less than a force of nature, releasing exciting music in big, fat batches. Snaring big name artists, yup, and also promoting the little guy, Clean Feed is supernatural. Clean Feed is my hero.
Among the artists showing up on Clean Feed in 2010 (and elsewhere too, importantly) was guitarist Mary Halvorson. Halvorson is the furthest thing from another Berklee-trained pentatonic wonder. She’s all edge and all charm at the same time, someone whose pedigree includes Wesleyan University and Anthony Braxton bands, but also a gentle duo or two. And in 2010 she released what may have been the most surprising—and promising—disc of the year.
Two trends to watch, right here.
Trend One: Clean Feed Can’t Be Ignored
When your regular, everyday jazz critic comes home from a day of doing whatever he does to make some scratch for rent and food and the occasional new pair of Pumas, he finds a package leaning against his door. If it’s a skinny package, then it might be a new recording from Blue Note or Sunnyside—a good day, for sure. But if it’s a big thick package jammed with seven or eight new releases at once, baby, it’s from Clean Feed.
He tears the manila envelope open and finds beautiful art adorning thin cardboard CD packages, and beyond that nothing is predictable. He might not know Matt Bauder (an adventurous reed player), but he sure does know James Carney and Stephan Crump. Unfamiliar with James Robinson? But he’s playing with the pianist Anthony Davis, one of his favorites. The Convergence Quartet is new to him, but—Holy CRAP!—look at the band Tony Malaby has put together on Tamarindo Live.
He’s tired, so he’s excused if he doesn’t get around to putting on any of these many discs right away. But he’s just got to hear them. What is the deal with Clean Feed records anyway?
Clean Feed’s website is modest and slightly out-of-date. Who has time to update the “About Us” page when you are putting out almost 50 recordings in 2010 by bands from all over the world, recordings that span styles and sounds with flying abandon? Here’s some of what the label says about itself:
“Clean Feed was founded in 2001 to release Portuguese and foreign musicians in separate and cooperative projects. The label was also created facing the whole world as its operating ground, taking advantage of the Internet revolution and the increasing global music market. Very quickly, Clean Feed found itself at the vortex of the international creative jazz scene, releasing projects that reached far beyond what we could initially imagine… Clean Feed aims at recording innovative contemporary jazz projects that can make a difference, building a catalogue that will be internationally recognized by its quality and coherence.”
The judgment is George W. Bush-isms simple: Mission Accomplished.
It would be impossible fully to do justice to the work of Clean Feed in 2010 in a single column, but here is a limited snapshot of some (and way too few) of my favorites.
Clean Feed Gives Musicians Room
Take the Crump/Carney duet album, Echo Run Pry. Like some classic jazz LP from the ‘70s, this recording consists of just two tracks, 20-plus minute free improvisations that unspool gradually and beautifully. (The model for Crump and Carney may have been the 1976 recordings on Improvising Artists by Sam Rivers and Dave Holland.) These duets are free and sometimes dissonant, but they are clear and melodic too—patient and surprising and uncommonly gorgeous. Carney is reaching into his instrument to pluck or mute strings, turning the piano into something exciting but not snarling, and Crump is rich in tone and every bit the piano’s equal. Grooving, swinging, free, mind-blowing.
Clean Feed Let’s Stars Play Around
For a small label, Clean Feed sure is hauling in some big jazz names. Maybe not the Diana Kralls or Wynton Marsalises, but few jazz players have risen faster in the last few years than alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa. But here he is recording for Clean Feed along with another big name—Steve Lehman. The two alto players share a sound and sensibility, of course: a jagged but precise kind of linear blowing that transcends “inside” and “outside” clichés and thrives on new kinds or arrangements, complex patterning, and acid-toned energy.
So Dual Identity, which pairs the two in a quintet with Liberty Ellman’s guitar, Matt Brewer on bass, and Damion Reid on drums, is both a jazz event and a bit of an indulgence. The two leaders snake around each other on nervous fast tunes and obtuse ballads, sounding quite similar in some ways, working out like kindred spirits who need to push each other hard. Ellman gets to play plenty of beautiful textures, but he also moves in tandem with Brewer to create grooves. This wasn’t my favorite disc of the year, but it has a thrilling all-star quality to it, like watching Lebron James and Dwayne Wade finally play on the same team. Like the Miami Heat, it mostly works.
Clean Feeds Give Us New Names, Old Names
Some musicians hide from the public. They disappear and teach. Or they play locally and never quite get on your radar. Or they play outside the center of one style somehow. For me, one of the “lost” jazz masters of the ‘70s and ‘80s is pianist Anthony Davis. Davis made a series of recordings for India Navigation featuring flutist James Newton, trombonist George Lewis, vibist Jay Hoggard, and others that defied category in delicious ways.
Then, quite deliberately, Davis—trained classically at Yale—started composing music that was not jazz in any meaningful way, including pieces for his ensemble Epistome and eventually opera as well (X about the life of Malcolm X). Once in a blue moon he would appear playing jazz, each time seeming like a long lost, but favorite, uncle. Cerulean Landscape pairs Davis with saxophonist and flutist James Robinson, now a professor at Amherst (and a former student of Davis’s at UC San Diego). It’s a lush and expansive set of seven tunes by both men, reflecting influences from Ellington to Cecil Taylor to classical and folk music. It gives you the sense that original, thrilling music is awaiting you beyond the clubs and concert halls. Anthony Davis is still here, pulsing with life, and musicians you’d never heard of are pulsing right along with him.
Clean Feed Encourages Surprising Collaboration
In real life, there are working bands, sure, real bands that stay together for years and develop on records over time, scrutinized by fans. But in jazz there are even more bands that come together for one night or one tour, one project, create some magic then split. Those special occasions too often miss the ears of even the ardent fan. But Clean Feed is giving many of these assemblages a chance for immortality. How about this band: Tony Malaby on tenor, Wadada Leo Smith on trumpet, New York bassist extraordinaire William Parker, and Bandwagon drummer Nasheet Waits. Tamarindo Live catches them live at the Jazz Gallery from June 2010, playing free and fantastic. Malaby sounds unleashed on soprano sax, buzzing and twirling, Smith is clarion at times and always a rhythmic marvel, and the rhythm section feels like a trampoline: pliant and yet firm. You missed this gig because you weren’t in town that day? Clean Feed brings it to your door.
Clean Feed Crosses Oceans, Easily
Based in Lisbon, Clean Feed isn’t hung up on nationality, race, location, culture. In the Clean Feed playground of improvised music, the monkey bars are open to all. A good example is Pool School from the Tom Rainey Trio. Rainey is a delicious drummer who I associate with the aggressive and wide-open playing of Tim Berne, but who has the skill and sensibility to play just about anything, funk to free and back again. This trio brings in US guitarist Mary Halvorson and saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, born in Germany but based in London. And while this is certainly “free jazz”—in that Laubrock plays with little regard for standard harmony or tonality, Halvorson plays textures as much as she does chords, and Rainey is constantly fracturing any steady sense of swing or straight time—the tunes are brief (mostly four-five minutes) and concise, with each player committing to a framework and not just going on-and-on-forever-already. While they sound freely improvised, the clarity of each track suggests a magical guiding hand. If only all jazz, free or otherwise, played by musicians from around the globe had this focus.
In 2011, Clean Feed already has five releases, including a live date from Mostly Other People Do the Killing (with a hilarious cover parodying The Koln Concert). Are you drooling a little bit? You should be.
Trend Two: Mary Halvorson Is Coming For You
The Tom Rainey Trio disc on Clean Feed features the guitarist Mary Halvorson, and in 2010 she is the other emerging story. Halvorson has been playing in New York since 2002, after studies at Wesleyan and The New School. But the chance that you would mistake her for, say, Pat Metheny or John Scofield is zero percent. Halvorson’s style is fragmented and cuts utterly loose from conventional jazz patterns. And while she plays a huge hollow-body Guild guitar with a fairly clean sound, she is quick to bend her notes, frazzle her lines, leap and crackle, pluck and pull and strike her strings against convention.
But here’s the thing: for all the veering away from conventional melodic form, you can’t stop listening. Halvorson captivates. And I’m not sure you’ll be able to figure out why. For all her lack convention—indeed, her self-described “weird”ness—she is extraordinarily musical.
Though Halvorson leads several bands and plays regularly in (and records regularly with) a dozen others, the news in 2010 was her first recording with The Mary Halvorson Quintet, Saturn Sings. This disc is special in Halvorson’s catalog because it gives fuller expression to her fascinating compositions.
“Miles High Like (No. 16)” is underpinned by typical Halvorson guitar work: stabbing patterns, oddly timed jabs and scratches, droning repetitions. But riding atop this is a coolly harmonized set of keening melodies played by Jonathan Finlayson on trumpet and Jon Irabagon on alto sax. As Finlayson solos, Halvorson grows more and more agitated beneath him, bending her chords, scratching at the strings, then finally playing what amount to mad rock chords. This music is weird, sure, but with Finlayson it’s also deeply melodic and rollicking fun.
“Sea Seizure (No. 19)” is just for the trio, and it actually just rocks. Halvorson starts by a playing a single distorted note in a hammer of repetitions while drummer Ches Smith provides solid backbeat, then they both shift into a syncopated groove beneath an oddball arpeggio. When Halvorson improvises, then, there is no chord pattern to follow but just a rhythmic blueprint that could go almost anywhere. And as with all of Halvorson’s music, things do go anywhere and everywhere. Could she play a straight bebop line if she wanted to? That certainly is not in the DNA of her style, but who really cares? She plays with plenty of precision when she wants to, and this band proves that repeatedly as bassist John Hebert or the horns lock in with her notes.
Saturn Sings proves that the idiosyncratic shapes of Halvorson’s melodies are not merely the sounds of someone freaking out on the guitar. Her odd melodic forms can sound vaguely random (if thrilling) on the trio tunes, but the cascades and marches, Blakeyisms and singsong ballads that she composes for the horns become wonderfully balanced counterpoints to her guitar. In fact, as “avant-garde” as Halvorson’s basic aesthetic may be, a tune like “Crack in Sky (No. 11)” is flat-out lovely. Irabagon’s alto solo lilts and dances, and the guitar accompaniment comes close to sensitive comping while still retaining certain trademarked bends and flutters. Amen, Mary!
The reason Mary Halvorson is giving jazz a nice little thrill about now goes beyond the quality of the music. Partly it’s that she is different. Not insignificantly, she is a woman in an art form that—despite how little we write and talk about it—is weighted madly toward men. She’s not a singer or a pianist but a guitarist with a caustic sound. That is very different. And her sound does not come from and then deviate from jazz’s mainstream of bop and post-bop orthodoxy. Halvorson’s art begins with an assumption of huge freedom, so it doesn’t become “free” by violating the norms she learned in music school. This second generation liberty, in not being a reaction against anything, feels utterly sincere and balanced. It’s the closest thing in jazz guitar playing to the piano styles of Matthew Shipp, Vijay Iyer, and Jason Moran that have been the other main story of the last five years in jazz.
Mary Halvorson smiles. Her music sounds like a fresh, brisk rain shower. She works noise and charm into the same track with ease. She plays with anyone and everyone who needs a new sound on guitar. And—of course—you can find her on Clean Feed releases. The promise of 2011 in jazz is bright.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing – The Coimbra Concert (CF 214)
One of the most exciting and innovative bands on the modern jazz scene, Mostly Other People Do the Killing is a jazz ensemble consisting of Peter Evans on trumpet, Jon Irabagon on tenor and sopranino saxophones, Moppa Elliott on bass and Kevin Shea on drums. What makes the band so much fun to follow is the impish delight they take in making music, from the delightful spoof covers to wryly quoting famous jazz songs amidst their original compositions. But make no mistake, their music is taken seriously and played with a very high degree of competence. This double live album was recorded live in Portugal and marks their first appearance on a label other than Hot Cup. Filled with fun, infectious and utterly enjoyable music. They play Ornette-ish free bop with sly quotes of other music, like sneaking in “Night in Tunisia” amidst the massive 30+ “Blue Ball” which anchors the first disc and evolves like a suite with a wonderful sense of timing and balance. “Pen Argyl” features smoking hot collective improvisation with fire to burn. “Burning Well” showcases Evans on a scorching strong trumpet solo, building up a riotous energy between the instruments, with epic drumming and bass pulse prod the horns on to ever greater heights. Wonderful, almost telepathic interplay amongst the band members is a key component of the music. “Factoryville” built around a thick and dexterous bass solo. The trumpet and tenor saxophone intertwine nicely over funky backbeat, getting a feel akin to classic Jazz Messengers albums. There’s a quieter interlude midway through for light trumpet, bass and bells. The music slowly picks up speed and intensity with a growing saxophone solo. “St. Mary’s” has strong up-tempo full band interplay, followed by a playful spacey droning interlude and light soft horn interplay, intricate and deep. Picks the pace back up slowly in a dynamic fashion. “Elliott Mills” wraps up this wonderful album with a fast paced funky fun coda.