Jon Irabagon with Mike Pride: I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues (2009)
Without playing "name that tune," it is easy to mistake Jon Irabagon and Mike Pride's one song, 48-minute recording for one by Bill Laswell's Massacre. Same energy, same intensity, and volume, lots of volume.
Funny, because this is an acoustic duo between saxophone and drums, while Massacre is a trio of drummer Charles Hayward, Laswell (electric bass) and Fred Frith on electric guitar.
Unplugged, saxophonist Irabagon and drummer Pride bring that much ferocity.
Irabagon was the most recent winner of the Thelonious Monk Jazz Competition (a prior winner was Joshua Redman), but might be best known for his work in the self-described "bebop cyborg terrorist band," Mostly Other People Do The Killing. He also leads Outright!, Starship's Journey (a 1980's covers band), and a Sonny Rollins tribute trio. He is also a co-leader or sideman in 10 other ensembles.
Drummer Pride is likewise a busy colleague, leading bands with the likes of Mary Halvorson (MPThree), Bill McHenry (Whoopie Pie), Jamie Saft and Andrew D'Angelo, and a sideman in bands led by Tony Malaby, Sonny Simmons and Jack Wright, to name a few.
This duo bridges rock and blues by way of improvised jazz. Pride sticking with his stadium rock rhythm, making large gestures that echo off the scoreboards and t-shirt vendors. It's riotous, somewhat farcical, and intoxicating. Irabagon is up to the challenge, filling in the drawn-out gaps left by Pride. Alternating between honk and wails that draw very little from free jazz. The grind is the blues, Pride altering time throughout, jumping into heavy metal drumming, then bebop, then funk, and rock. Irabagon glues the affair together with his repetition of themes.
Ok, nobody will be shouting "I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues" instead of "Free Bird" or "Bohemian Rhapsody," but at least it provides something to think about.
Track Listing: I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues.
Personnel: Jon Irabagon: tenor saxophone; Mike Pride: drums.