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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, the twenties, the 1970sall in one giant stew of sound. And ‘stew’ might be the perfect term for this music because it can mean both to boil, simmer, and steam, or perhaps the term for a place where prostitutes apply their trade; in other words. a whorehouse. And brothels were where jazzmen first applied their craft, in fact ‘jass’ or ‘jazz’ refers to copulation or coitus. But I digress
“You can put lipstick on a pig,” the band MOPDTK seems to be asking us (to borrow a phrase from this years elections), “but can you get the pig to take a bow?” In other words, you can play real jazz wearing a tuxedo, in Lincoln Center, but, folks, it will never be classical music.
This Is Our Moosic is the quartet’s third disc, following Shamokin!!! (2007) and their self-titled debut (2004). The members include leader and bassist Moppa Elliott, a graduate of Oberlin’s conservatory of Music, drummer Kevin Shea, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Peter Evans. Evans grabbed the attention of the jazz world last year, with his quartet recording for Firehouse 12 Records and an impressive solo outing for Evan Parker’s PSI label.
The closest comparison to other bands might be Steven Bernstein’s Sexmob or The Bad Plus. But where The Bad Plus is micro economics, MOPDTK is macro economics. They are extreme extroverts of jazz playing music at the highest level and they might just mix Freddie Hubbard with Freddy Fender.
For instance, Elliott’s tune “Biggertown” is a three rhythm change tune based loosely (very loosely) around the primary key centers of “Giant Steps.” If his band was anything but first rate, they could never attempt this degree of difficulty. Saying that, listening to the frenetic changes is both difficult and fun at the same time. This grab bag of thoughts persists throughout. The smooth jazz destruction of “East Orwell” opens like a sweet 1970s TV movie before disco thumps into the mix and then a thought salad verse introduces Ornette-like phrases that morph into Marshall Allen.
The boys aren’t afraid to play attractive music, squeezing out the blues-based “Effort, Patience, Diligence” or dealing with the boogaloo of “Drainlick,” both real booty shakers. Both tracks have incredible vibes. The rhythms are grounded in Elliott’s bass and drummer Kevin Shea, the American equivalent of Han Bennink. They play one cover, Billy Joel’s “Allentown.” The closer is played as a straight pop tune. Irony is certainly not dead.
Track Listing: Drainlick; Two Boot Jacks; Fagundus; The Bats In Belfry; East Orwell; My Delightful Muse; Biggertown; Effort, Patience, Diligence; Allentown.
Personnel: Peter Evans: trumpet; Kevin Shea: drums; Jon Irabagon: alto saxophone; Moppa Elliott: double-bass.