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Moppa Elliott & Jon Irabagon: Accomplish Jazz and Forty Fort

Ivana Ng By

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Mostly Other People Do The Killing
Forty Fort
Hot Cup Records
2010


Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord
Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord Accomplish Jazz
Hot Cup Records
2009


Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK) revels in allusion and anarchy. In their fourth album Forty Fort (this time recreating the classic cover of Roy Haynes' Out of the Afternoon), they take inspiration from bebop and hard bop traditions and then they reinvent and infuse their tunes with references to soul, funk, rock, hip-hop and even past MOPDtK tunes. Listen to "Rough and Ready" and you might hear traces of Busta Rhymes. Even if you don't catch the reference, you'll appreciate the tune's exuberant energy and can't-quite-put-your-finger-on-it familiarity. MOPDtK's accessibility stems from not only its affinity for allusion but also its eagerness to wreak havoc.

Bassist and composer Moppa Elliott likes to be consistent. Forty Fort, like the albums before it, starts off with what Elliott refers to as "the obligatory Blue Note Boogaloo." That familiar phrase soon turns into a wild rumpus of hard bop-flavored improv. In the opening track, "Pen Argyl," saxophonist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Peter Evans trace through funk- and blues-inflected riffs, punctuated by artful vignettes of splintered horn exchanges.

"St. Mary's Proctor" is a witty, circus-influenced tune. Evans and Elliott perform a vaudevillian waltz that slowly devolves into Evans droning on in his characteristic spluttery trumpet's purr. Irabagon soars over Evans and Elliott's backing melody, playing sparse yet urgent notes.

Jon Lundbom's quartet and MOPDtK share the same bassist and alto saxophonist, but that doesn't necessarily mean Accomplish Jazz is as crazy and frenetic as Forty Fort. Guitarist and bandleader Lundbom's third album with Big Five Chord is a decidedly more low-key affair. His thoughtful, somber melodies provide the backdrop for more intimate dialogues between Elliott and Irabagon. In the industrial "Phoenetics," Irabagon experiments with plaintive phrases and what sounds like a call-and-response between himself, as Elliott plucks out an ominous yet barely-there rhythm.

In "The Christian Life," a cover of a Louvin Brothers tune, tenor saxophonist Bryan Murray busts out bluesy lines and angular melodies while Elliott performs an exquisitely frenzied solo so compelling that it could be its own track. In the more rock-infused "Baluba, Baluba," Elliott and drummer Danny Fischer lay down a hard bop foundation for Irabagon's exploration.

Accomplish Jazz excels in showing off individual players' strong suits while Forty Fort delights in chaotic diversions. With Big Five Chord, Elliott and Irabagon can develop their ideas in a more 'standard' improv situation. With MOPDtK, they can indulge in raucous, often tangential, musical digressions. Elliott and Irabagon adapt beautifully to both environments.


Tracks and Personnel

Forty Fort

Tracks: Pen Argyl; Rough and Ready; Blue Ball; Nanticoke Coke; Little Hope; Forty Fort; Round Bottom, Square Top; St. Mary's Proctor; Cute.

Personnel: Peter Evans: trumpet; Jon Irabagon: alto and tenor sax; Moppa Elliott: bass; Kevin Shea: drums and electronics.

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord Accomplish Jazz

Tracks: Truncheon; Phoenetics; The Christian Life; Tick-Dog; Baluba, Baluba.

Personnel: Jon Lundbom: guitar; Jon Irabagon: alto sax; Bryan Murray: tenor sax; Matthew "Moppa" Elliott: bass; Danny Fischer: drums.


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