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

Mark Corroto By

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Jon Irabagon: I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox
In season two of the classic British TV comedy Monty Python's Flying Circus, John Cleese plays an architect making a presentation to a committee assembled to build an apartment complex. His design has "classical neo-Georgian features" with "tenants arriving in the entrance hall...carried along corridors on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort...towards the rotating knives. The last twenty feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. The blood pours down these shoots and the flesh slurps into these..." Halted by the committee, they ask if he is proposing to kill the tenants? Of course he's confused, he says, "you see I mainly design slaughter houses." After being rejected, he asks them to reconsider because "my life has been leading up to this."

Unlike the architect Cleese plays, it appears the committee has commissioned saxophonist Jon Irabagon to construct that abattoir with this third volume of I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues. Building upon the 2009 original eponymous duo with drummer Mike Pride on the Loyal Label, he next added guitarist Mick Barr for the trio I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues Volume 2: Appalachian Haze (Irabbagast Records, 2012). Here the three become a quartet with the addition of a second guitarist Eva Mendoza.

Like the two prior outings the music is but one track clocking in at 47-minutes and that one track is a knacker's yard of sound. Irabagon's tenor is competing throughout with a right channel/left channel of guitar turbulence and the pounding pulsations of drums. The encounter with this onslaught is not unlike a performance by Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson, and Balázs Pándi.

Irabagon, the winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, has a chameleon-like nature playing straight-ahead jazz and post-bop with the likes of Dave Douglas and Wynton Marsalis, free jazz with Barry Altschul, chamber and new music, solo works, and well, you get the idea. He is capable of anything.

Here his self-described "cataclysmic, end-of-this-world, ecstatic noise music" is a full frontal assault. The two guitars Barr and Mendoza are the musical equivalent to white water, an ever charging churn of turbulence. They seem to exist barely recognizing Irabagon's circumstance. He's caught between the guitar chaos and the perpetual motion of Pride's drumming, which occasionally pushes the saxophonist in different directions. This is cathartic and purifying music, that is if you survive the rotating knives.

Track Listing

Anatomical Snuffbox.


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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