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Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Forty Fort

Jakob Baekgaard By

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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 mixture of old-fashioned swing, high-octane funk and avant-garde improvisation that comes across as a joyous march through an imaginary New Orleans reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland.

It is hard to navigate through the jungle of sounds presented on the album. In one moment, on "Forty Fort," the group plays pleasant straight-ahead swing, and the next minute they explode into a fury of sound, the jazz equivalent of a speed metal band.

There is a sense of postmodern play with identity, authenticity and the purity of genre, underlined by the jocular liner notes by "Leonard Featherweight"—hinting at legendary jazz critic Leonard Feather—who describes the clothes (!) and not the music of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Tommy Flanagan, Roy Haynes and Henry Grimes (implying, satirically, that modern music criticism is nothing but an empty weaving of words).

Indeed, the vocabulary of the written word isn't wide enough to cover the crazy world of Mostly Other People Do the Killing. The album ends with what sounds like a toilet flushing and the words "You did a great job," congratulating the listener. Whether this is meant ironically or not is debatable, but the statement goes both ways.

This is music that requires something of the listener, but is also a lot of fun. It may be that the band has flushed out all the clichés of tradition, but in its anarchistic scope and vision, Forty Fort sticks close to the true spirit of jazz.

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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