A cheeky play on both Ornette Coleman's classic record This Is Our Music
(Atlantic, 1960) and the name of a small town in Elliott's home state of Pennsylvania, This Is Our Moosic
is the third studio album from bassist Moppa Elliott's terrorist bebop band Mostly Other People Do The Killing. Bolstered by a youthful visceral intensity, this album features the mercurial quartet's historically aware yet stylistically irreverent take on the jazz tradition.
The veteran lineup of saxophonist Jon Irabagon, trumpeter Peter Evans and drummer Kevin Shea once again joins Elliott on a dynamic session that vacillates between extremes with mischievous glee. Elliott's admiration for Ornette Coleman's innovations is detailed in the liner notes. With a similarly forward thinking mindset, Elliott brazenly pushes his ensemble forward into the future, drawing impertinently from the past for inspiration.
Even more so than on their previous release, Shamokin!!!
(Hot Cup, 2007), Elliott allows individual musicians to spontaneously change their role within the ensemble at any given time. Each member of the quartet regularly breaks off on his own melodic, harmonic or rhythmic tangent, which creates interweaving four-way conversations that continuously fluctuate between cohesion and chaos. This endlessly oscillating collage of inside/outside aesthetics and role reversals eradicates predefined notions of melody, harmony and rhythm as it ebbs and flows within a constantly evolving environment.
Evans and Irabagon are monster virtuosos on their respective horns, but their daunting technical abilities are subservient to their boundlessly creative approaches. Extended techniques and experimental textures are as integral to their phrasing as pentatonic scales, chromatic runs and blues changes. From caterwauling screeds to dulcet whispers, Evans and Irabagon run the gamut of expression, shifting between moods with stunning dexterity.
A magnanimous leader, Elliott is a stalwart supporting player; despite regular detours off the beaten path, he often acts as the quartet's rhythmic and harmonic lynchpin. Shea is a brutally punishing post-modern drummer; his fusillades of percussive fury have more in common with metal and punk than they do classic jazz dynamics. Together, they make a stunning rhythm section; their capacity for nuanced dynamics is revealed in small doses, but it is their quicksilver tempo shifts, coiled rhythmic interplay and thunderous volume that are most compelling.
The band traverses the entire jazz continuum to pilfer from various periods of history, taking each tune apart with characteristic wit. No style is left untouched as they deconstruct everything from Dixieland ("Two Boot Jacks") to swing ("Biggertown"), blues ("Effort, Patience, Diligence") to boogaloo ("Drainlick") and post-bop ("Fagundus") to smooth jazz ("East Orwell"). This Is Our Moosic
is another stellar offering from one of today's most vibrant young ensembles. Mostly Other People Do the Killing travel through the history of jazz, re-contextualizing the past with an impertinent wit that keeps the music fresh and alive.
Personnel: Peter Evans: trumpet; Jon Irabagon: alto and tenor saxophones; Moppa Elliott: double bass; Kevin Shea: drums.