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Album Review

I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues: I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox


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The prolific and eclectic saxophonist/composer Jon Irabagon finds his most uninhibited side with his I Donʼt Hear Nothinʼ but the Blues (IDHNBTB) group, one he aptly describes as his "brutal ensemble." I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox expands the group that debuted as a duo, then became a trio on Volume 2, and now, a quartet that adds an extra layer of mayhem to the music.

IDHNBTB originated as a saxophone/drum configuration with Mike Pride on the drum set. Pride has played in almost two-dozen groups and leads his namesake quartet, From Bacteria To Boys. With IDHNBTB's second release, I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 2: Appalachian Haze (Irabbagast Records, 2012) guitarist Mick Barr joined; his resume ranges from metal rock to composing for a string trio. Anatomical Snuffbox adds a second electric guitar in the person of Ava Mendoza. A fearless performer/composer, she is best known as the leader of the art- rock band Unnatural Ways, but she has a broader background. She has recorded or performed with Nels Cline, Matana Roberts, John Zorn, William Parker, and Hamid Drake, among others.

Like the previous releases of IDHNBTB, Anatomical Snuffbox consists of a single free improvisation. It is merciless from the opening on. Barr and Mendoza scream out of the gate at breakneck speed and don't let up until they cross the wire. Irabagon, here on tenor sax, reciprocates in blistering torrents while Pride somehow maintains a bumpy roadmap of sorts. Often Irabagon and the guitarists appear to be drawn to separate destinations, but wherever they are going, it doesn't feel like home.

IDHNBTB doesn't simply deconstruct music, they engage in guerrilla warfare. It is noisy and demanding, yes, but there is a spellbinding quality to Anatomical Snuffbox that makes it impossible to overlook. For listeners willing to absorb this risky approach to the corporal and cerebral confines of improvisation, this album is a spirited challenge.

Track Listing

Anatomical Snuffbox.


Additional Instrumentation

Jon Irabagon: tenor saxophone; Ava Mendoza: electric guitar; Mick Barr: electric guitar; Mike Pride: drums.

Album information

Title: I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Irabbagast Records

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