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Album Review

Mostly Other People Do the Killing (yes, that's the name of the group) are mainly inspired by towns or villages in the state of Pennsylvania, and the music of Ornette Coleman. This is evident when you look at the cover art of this CD, a direct reference to Coleman's legendary album This Is Our Music. Nicely dressed young men in suits and ties, MOPDTK look only slightly like mad jazz pioneers, but in fact they seize the precepts of Coleman and are making inspired new music beyond others in their peer group. Moosic is also the name of a city in Pennsylvania, and there are others to which the band dedicates these selections. The stars of the group are trumpeter Peter Evans and saxophonist Jon Irabagon, both leaders in their own right and contributing exponentially to the brash soul and extroverted solos that identify the group sound. Bassist Moppa Elliott is the ostensible leader and the wellspring for the compositions referring to the Quaker State, while drummer Kevin Shea is probably the most energetic, frenetic, fierce, and wild-assed player this side of Han Bennink. Together MOPDTK create some of the most vibrant, exciting, and original music in modern-day progressive jazz. There's a circus-like, clownish element à la Lester Bowie quite evident in pieces such as the choppy "Two Boot Jacks" with additional yakkity, untamed references from Irabagon to Boots Randolph. Blending Bowie's humor with the multi-ethnic style of Don Cherry, Evans is particularly tuneful, stewing in an R&B brew for "East Orwell." Mixing metaphors of Danny Elfman's Batman theme, Kurt Weill, and Claude Debussy, "The Bats in the Belfry" waltzes along until the trumpet of Evans busts out with zeal and enthusiasm. The blues remain a major factor on the funky rock boogaloo workout "Drainlick," driven by the nutty drumming of Shea, inspiring it to disintegrate into free urban sounds, then bop. A dirty shuffle from Shea is installed in a low-toned then frantic "My Delightful Muse." You also get the spy-toned hard bopping "Fagundus," where Shea is everywhere at once; the children's tune "Biggertown" warped by free blowing furious bop; and a funky Bowie-like "cover" of Billy Joel's "Allentown." The selection paying direct homage to Coleman's harmolodic approximate note theory is the 12/8-based "Effort, Patience, Diligence," where admitted clichés are tossed left and right — mostly left — with some added blues-hued sweetness. MOPDTK have been winning substantive awards and fans who dare to be different, and they are steadily on the rise toward being one of the premier acoustic creative ensembles on the American landscape. This effort does nothing to deter their meteoric ascension, and is highly recommended. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

This Is Our Moosic, Mostly Other People Do The Killing
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