184

Jon Irabagon: Foxy

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
Jon Irabagon: Foxy The classic late 1950s trio recordings of Sonny Rollins are widely revered by up and coming saxophonists as a benchmark against which to prove themselves. Saxophonist Jon Irabagon, winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition and a celebrated member of the infamous quintet Mostly Other People Do the Killing, wryly acknowledges this fact on his first trio record, Foxy, which takes a cue (visually and conceptually) from Rollins' seminal 1957 masterpiece, Way Out West (Contemporary).

Though boasting one of the most humorous album cover parodies of recent times, Foxy contains some deadly serious music. Joined by legendary drummer Barry Altschul and bassist Peter Brendler, Irabagon and company embark on a single extended improvisation based on a standard sixteen bar form, expanding and extrapolating the tradition with a vivacious combination of irreverence and respect. Similar to Irabagon's duo record with drummer Mike Pride, I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues (Loyal Label, 2009), this relentless studio session exudes the same unflagging kinetic intensity, while spotlighting the saxophonist's extroverted side—an aspect largely missing from his classy major label debut, The Observer (Concord, 2009).

A virtuosic stylist not beholden to the tradition's more conservative attitudes, Irabagon's mercurial tenor flights brim with spry invention throughout the set's uninterrupted 78 minute duration, from the fade-in intro to the shockingly abrupt ending. With inexhaustible stamina and unbridled enthusiasm, he unleashes a bellowing stream of lyrical cadences in vacillating time signatures that alternate with asymmetrical refrains, altissimo accents and multiphonic blasts. His technical prowess and singular creativity facilitates the incorporation of divergent approaches into naturalistic extrapolations, seamlessly uniting formalism with abstraction.

Providing historical precedent for his epic excursions, Irabagon regularly interweaves witty references from old chestnuts into his tortuous screeds. Recalling the bop-era's penchant for quotation, snippets from Great American Songbook standards like "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" and "Let It Snow" appear briefly before modulating into deconstructed variations on blues, bop and swing motifs. Further emphasizing its connection to the music's historical continuum, the album length improvisation is divided into individual tracks with punning titles like "Proxy," "Roxy" and "Biloxi"—a sly reference to Rollins' staple tune "Doxy."

Proving his mettle as a magnanimous leader (without refraining from the action), Irabagon occasionally assumes the role of sideman for Altschul and Brendler, plying hypnotic John Coltrane-inspired fragments as harmonic support. Brendler is a stalwart supporting player with a stout tone and bracing technique, but it is Altschul's fulsome attack that dominates the rhythm section, with contributions that are as rousing as his iconic collaborations with Paul Bley, Anthony Braxton and Sam Rivers three decades ago.

A tour de force of ardent virtuosity and cogent interplay, this marathon blowing session is a potent reminder of the joyous spontaneity of jazz in all its stylistic permutations, and a bold statement from a young artist on the rise.

Track Listing: Foxy; Proxy; Chicken Poxy; Boxy; Hydroxy; Biloxi; Tsetse; Unorthodoxy; Epoxy; Roxy; Foxy (Radio Edit); Moxie.

Personnel: Jon Irabagon: tenor saxophone; Peter Brendler: bass; Barry Altschul: drums.

Title: Foxy | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Hot Cup Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Screen Sounds CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Rediscovered Ellington CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 20, 2017
Read The Bug CD/LP/Track Review The Bug
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Sing Me Some Cry CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2017
Read Masters In Bordeaux CD/LP/Track Review Masters In Bordeaux
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 19, 2017
Read On Parade In Parede CD/LP/Track Review On Parade In Parede
by John Sharpe
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966)" CD/LP/Track Review Smokin’ in Seattle: Live at the Penthouse (1966)
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 14, 2017
Read "Live at Club Helsinki" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Club Helsinki
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "And to the Republic" CD/LP/Track Review And to the Republic
by Mark F. Turner
Published: October 12, 2016
Read "Aziza" CD/LP/Track Review Aziza
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 25, 2016
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.