New York-based quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing sounds like an updated incarnation of Steve Bernstein's Sex Mob, more in spirit than in sound. Both quartets defy the sterile definition of jazz by neo-cons and like to play their own version of jazzdirty, muddy and fast, and meant for the body rather than the brain. Both embrace post-modern pastiche techniques by knitting early jazz, pop and even smooth jazz quotes and references side-by-side with tributes to better sources including John Zorn and Peter Brötzmann, often in the same musical sentence. Both quartets are also gifted with healthy doses of eccentric and sometimes macabre humor (check the logo of MOPDtK).
MOPDtK is Moppa Elliot, a bassist/composer brought up in a home in which jazz was the main musical diet; trumpeter Peter Evans, who has a classical background; saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who is gifted with a unique encyclopedic knowledge of jazz saxophone masters; and drummer Kevin Shea, whose experience is rooted in indie rock combos. All the Elliot-penned originals borrow their titles from the colorful and quite often bizarre names of Pennsylvanian villages and hamlets. The informative liners notes are attribute to Leonardo Featherweight, a heartfelt tribute to the late British jazz enthusiast and journalist Leonard Feather.
MOPDtK demonstrates its groove-based approach on the opening boogaloo, "Handsome Eddy, where Evans and Irabagon trade powerful solos. "The Hop Bottom Hop" presents a post-modem aesthetic. Elliot hybridizes the playful slap style of double-bassist Milt Hinton with the more excessive style of electric bassist Victor Wooten. While Irabagon quotes the bluesy tone of Johnny Hodges and Booker Ervin and Evans injects clever references to ABBA's "Dancing Queen. The title track revolves around Shea's Gene-Krupa-esque infectious swinging drums, and features a wild solo by Evans. On "Dunkelbergers," MOPDtK indulge in testing every cliché of 1960s samba and bossa nova, with Ibragron using it to prove that you can play a tasteful version of smooth jazz.
MOPDtK digresses in an atypically soulful and brief ballad, "Lover, but soon opt for its more native mode and resumes playing as rapidly as possible. On "Andover," Evans gestures towards jazz ancestors Louis Armstrong and Buddy Bolden in a way that clashes with Irabagon's preferences toward modern father figures like Brötzmann. The liner notes indicate that "Evans City" was the location where Night of the Living Dead (1968) was filmed, and this intensely swinging piece culminates with a bowed bass solo, "the greatest achievement in jazz, according to the liner notes. "Baden" is a playful quarrel between all the players, none refusing to let the other have the last word, and Irabagon demonstrating an outstanding schizophrenic solo that tries to marry sax players as divergent as Najee and Zorn.
The album closes with a twenty-one minute jazz orgy, turning Dizzy Gillespie's standard, "A Night in Tunisia, inside and out. MOPDtK proves, again and again, that it is certainly not going to get a sun tan from studios fluorescent lights, but wait eagerly for some wild and rowdy gigs. Give them the chance.
Personnel: Peter Evans: trumpet; Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone; Moppa Elliot: double bass; Kevin Shea: drums.