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Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Red Hot!

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I've been too busy enjoying the music of Mostly Other People Do The Killing (MOPTDK) to realize how controversial they've become. If you doubt their ability to rile the jazz world, all you have to do is post one of their videos on your Facebook page and wait for the ensuing kerfuffle to begin. The core band is comprised of four virtuoso instrumentalists, free-spirits who think nothing of hopping from honest-to-god punk rock, to free improv, to hard bop, to Americana, and back; sometimes in the space of a single track. Many of their original compositions, written by bassist Moppa ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Red Hot

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Having been simultaneously inspired by and ironic about '80s smooth jazz on the excellent Slippery Rock (Hot Cup Records, 2013), Mostly Other People Do the Killing delve back further into history to explore pre-War genres on Red Hot. It's a tall order for a foursome, so bassist and leader Moppa Elliott has added Brandon Seabrook on banjo, Ron Stabinsky on piano and David Taylor on bass trombone to fully exploit the possibilities inherent in post New Orleans modes. Though the new voices successfully fill out the ensembles and expand the instrumental palette, there is a downside: we don't get to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock

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Strangely enough, bandleader and bassist Moppa Elliot derived inspiration for his compositions on Slippery Rock from smooth jazz albums of the late 1970s and '80s. However, it's more like smooth jazz under siege; with resonating rhythms, scorching and wily horns choruses, the program offers subliminal detections of commercial jazz fare as the band often breaks into complex and peppery free form jaunts. MOPDtK acutely tears down most of the melodic content, only to reassemble it into fractured and largely improvised harmonic vamps. But part of the group's appeal lies within its youthful spirit and insanely hip spin on modern jazz. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock

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Mostly Other Peopele Do the Killing is back! And with it the rightly slandered genre of smooth jazz. This quintet's fifth studio album was penned by MOPDtK bassist Moppa Elliot after a lengthy immersion in the smooth jazz recordings of the late 1970s and '80s. Elliott extracted certain idiomatic phrases, harmonies and embellishments from this superficial and commercial style, incorporated into his own compositions and used all the quartet members' encyclopedic knowledge to shed new light on this often maligned sub-genre. Fortunately, Elliot and the other virtuoso co-conspirators of MOPDtK-- trumpeter Peter Evans, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Slippery Rock

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Like the previous four studio albums by self-styled bebop terrorist band Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Slippery Rock begins with a drum solo over a vamp before kicking into the first tune. That's not the only thing that remains constant. Leader/bassist Moppa Elliott's songwriting talents haven't deserted him either; his charts, named after small Pennsylvania towns, are bursting at the seams with nagging melodies and rhythmic gear changes. Also present and correct are the affectionate nods to older forms and sources, this time particularly the smooth jazz of the 1980s, played simultaneously straight and with a devil-may-care abandon.

INTERVIEWS

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Setting the Record Straight

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Mostly Other People Do the Killing is frequently typecast as one of today's most humorously irreverent young jazz groups, based in no small part on their provocative name, which was inspired by a quote attributed to inventor Leon Theremin--a survivor of the Soviet gulag who exonerated Stalin because “mostly other people did the killing." Bassist and founder Moppa Elliott (born Matthew Thomas Elliott) has repeatedly insisted in interviews that the band isn't actually intended to be irreverent however, as much as it is anti-hero worship.The quartet's rebellious spirit and wry sensibility is deeply rooted and readily apparent, well ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: The Coimbra Concert

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Forty Fort

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The experience of listening to the highly gifted quartet Mostly Other Do the Killing (MOPDtK) is like taking a ride on roller-coaster while drunk, but still trusting your life in the hands of a wild driver who often has some epileptic fits. It is fun, no doubt; a wild fun, like going to a circus. But after the surprise is over, and MOPDtK continues to surprise with every new release, it's a dizzying experience that can require rest from such a hyperactive ride.

With an already forged identity in its three previous releases, MOPDtK has perfected its recipe. Jumping back ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do The Killing: Forty Fort

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Several wonderful things distinguish Mostly Other People Do The Killing (MOPDtK) from almost any other band playing today in the long shadows of Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman. These are, in no particular order: a wild humor; an extreme sense of the angular melody; brave harmonies; and a leaping sense of rhythm. None of these pay any direct obsequiousness to the so-called jazz idiom, but they do not have to. The trance-like omnipresence of the drums throughout Forty Fort makes enough of an offertory to the Afro tradition, and the profane nature in which irreverent melodies are crossed with unusual ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Forty Fort

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Even though jazz is an improvised art that's bursting with the unexpected, some groups stand out as being especially adventurous and wild. In terms of anarchy of sound, Mostly Other People Do the Killing is in a class of its own. On their fourth effort, Forty Fort, the group descends further into musical madness, exploring a wealth of styles that would make even Miles Davis blush. “Pen Argyll" kicks things off with its punctuated rock groove and the heated horns of alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Peter Evans. “Nanticoke Coke" is an odd ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Forty Fort

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Irreverent devils, aren't they, these four guys who make up the piano-less quartet called Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK)? This is Our Moosic (Hot Cup Records, 2008) was a play on Ornette Coleman's This Is Our Music (Atlantic, 1960) in title and with the cover photo and design. Forty Fort sports a cover laid out to look like one of the the classic Impulse! Records albums of the same time period. And then there's the music.With a trumpet, saxophone, bass and drums line-up combined with MOPDtK's unbridled enthusiastic freedom, Coleman, at his free flying-est is the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do The Killing: This Is Our Moosic

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The cover of the third release by the avant-bop quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK) suggests the obvious for anyone who has listened to this excellent ensemble. They reference the classic 1960 Ornette Coleman Quartet Atlantic recording, This Is Our Music, not only by the precise, though humorous position of its members on the cover (an awareness in the greater narrative of jazz) but also in substance and spirit. The classic Coleman recording featured a rare interpretation of Gershwin's “Embraceable You," spinning its beautiful theme way beyond the articulations of the composer and Charlie Parker. Following Coleman's exemplary ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do The Killing: This Is Our Moosic

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Mostly Other People Do The Killing (MOPDtK), a quartet led by bassist Moppa Elliott, draws from a plethora of styles and genres in its third album, This Is Our Moosic. Traces of Ornette Coleman (the title and cover satirize the saxophonist's famous disc), John Coltrane and even Danny Elfman and Billy Joel emerge from the group improv in the nine tracks. The songs are out there but also full of familiar phrases. This Is Our Moosic is a true declaration of MOPDtK's aesthetic and dynamic--daring and risky, but also humorous and fun. Elliott begins “Drainlick" with a ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Mostly Other People Do The Killing: This Is Our Moosic

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And the call came out from the emperor Wynton Marsalis to his loyal henchman Stanley Crouch, “Bring me the head of Moppa Elliott, and deliver his dome on a ride cymbal!” In fact, the Lord of Lincoln Center demanded the heads of all the members of the band Mostly Other People Do The Killing or MOPDTK. The PC police of the jazz canon could not allow these uprisings to gain popular acceptance. You must agree. We cannot have the 1960s all over again, can we?

In fact bassist Moppa Elliott wants us to relive the sixties and well, ...



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