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Jon Irabagon Trio: It Takes All Kinds

Glenn Astarita By

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This trio radiated Olympian style heroics akin to an endurance race on Foxy (Hot Cup, 2010). It was an arousing exercise in energy and power. And while drummer Barry Altschul, and bassist Mark Helias are time-honored jazz warriors— respectively appearing on many landmark albums—saxophonist Jon Irabagon is now firmly seated with the upper-echelon of modern saxophone heroes. His star has definitely risen. A first-call session ace and stalwart member of the cutting-edge, nouveau jazz ensemble Mostly Other People Do The Killing, the artist is a force to be reckoned with. And perhaps no other album to date highlights his titanic faculties on It Takes All Kinds, which was recorded in 2013 at Germany's Jazzwerkstatt festival.

Irabagon's polytonal inflections; gravelly interludes and seemingly limitless improvisational proficiencies are snuggled within his sinewy assaults. The trio is largely about invoking a consortium of liberating aspects as they wind up, wind down, reinvent and push the envelope. These works contain melodic content based on a surfeit of storylines, spanning March progressions, ostinato extensions, bop, free-bop and more. For instance, on "Quintessential Kitten" Irabagon pulls out the proverbial stops. Add a few doses of the late jazz and pop saxophonist Boots Randolph's "Yakety Sax" inferences, with searching notes and a touch of angst, the saxophonist guides the trio through surging frameworks and asymmetrical explosions.

The musicians operate with the resolve of great explorers. Weaving statements and the rhythm section's counterbalancing accents and responses, generate great depth and room for expansion. Irabagon's vigorous buzz-saw phrasings and popping notes spark a buoyant, yet whimsical motif during "Cutting Corners" where Helias tenders a contrasting muse via his walking lines and multi-register enactments, as Altschul swaths a polyrhythmic undercurrent. The drummer also launches "Unconditional" with an extensive workout, including North African toms patterns in support of the saxophonist's singing choruses. Moreover, Helias takes his turn by launching "Sunrise" with an in-depth solo spot, teeming with inward-looking discourses and tricky maneuvers while the trio imparts a climate that is analogous to a sense of isolation. Among other glaring positive forces, the trio's telepathic interplay is simply stunning.

Track Listing: Wherewithal; Vestiges; Quintessential Kitten; Elusive; Cutting Corners; Unconditional; Sunrise; Pause and Flip.

Personnel: Jon Irabagon: Tenor Saxophone; Mark Helias: Double Bass; Barry Altschul: Drums and Percussion.

Title: It Takes All Kinds | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Jazzwerkstatt Berlin-brandenburg E.v.


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