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Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Forty Fort

Dan McClenaghan By

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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 first influence that comes to mind. But there is so much more going on here. This is one wild, hairy, headlong ride. Get an electric blender. Throw in some hard bop jazz with some boogaloo, add a dose of reggae with a few game show themes, dump in a cup of bossa nova, a dash of Duke Ellington and Andrew Lloyd Weber and a dollop of Benzedrine funk. Give it a mix on low speed, then take the lid off and hit liquefy and get out of the way.

That's Mostly Other People Do the Killing.

More than just about any other group around, this band is about having fun at an often frenetic pace. Listening to the opener, "Pen Argyle," it's easy to envision a pack of circus clowns careening around under the big top in an impossibly tiny car, jettisoning big shoes and orange hairpieces, red rubber noses and over-sized boxer shorts.

Throughout, trumpeter Peter Evans and saxophonist Jon Irabagon trade freewheeling solos with big proficiency, roaring fire and extreme abandon. Drummer Kevin Shea sounds, at times, as if he thrashing on trash can lids in the most delightful way, while bassist Moppa Elliott—the group's honcho/tunesmith—grooves in deep to hold things together for periods, and then throws control to the wind and lets things blow very free.

"Blue Ball" opens in a whimsical, Ellingtonian mood, evolving into what sounds like a drunken Irish bar jam, and then—with Elliott breaking out the bow and screaming up in the bass' higher end—slips into a weirded-out bluegrass/jazz hybrid gone bad.

The title tune starts out with a surprisingly traditional feel, a pared down Dixieland groove that devolves into a brief interlude of saxophone-rendered bull sea-lion-in-the-rut roars and honks before piercing trumpet cries give way to a smooth, even pretty, groove. And that's not the half of it.

That's Mostly Other People Do the Killing. It's a wild ride. Belt in tight and hang on.

Track Listing: Pen Argyl; Rough and Ready; Blue Ball; Nanticoke Coke; Little Hope; Forty Fort; Round Bottom; Square Top; Mary's Proctor; Cute.

Personnel: Peter Evans: trumpet; Jon Irabagon: alto and tenor saxophones; Moppa Elliott: bass; Kevin Shea: drums, electronics.

Title: Forty Fort | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records

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