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Moppa Elliott is a young bassist who leads a young, talented band. As such, the musicboth written and improvised partsis misleadingly mature. Whether it's strong training and influences or just plain old giftedness I can't say, but it's heartening to see such talent continue to flow into jazz, despite the great old form's ongoing brush with death at the hands of the music business, aided and abetted by an increasingly indifferent or antipathetic public.
Elliott seems to want to distance his project from the mainstream designation, but here perhaps his youth shows more plainly, as Mostly Others Do the Killing is clearly a jazz record. The title and design of the CD aims to ape an alternative rock aesthetic, but five seconds into the music, no one will be fooled. The compositions are in-the-pocket modern jazz romps. The music is playful and seemingly unintimidated by the deep waters in which it swims, but the ideas and stylistic devices employed are far from avant-garde. Elliott is correct to aim for a younger audience, but his music is far more sophisticated than any alternative rock, and he has a heap more instrumental talent in his band.
Jon Irabagon's soprano playing seems to reveal an awareness of Steve Lacy, and he can play with bright clarity and microtonal murkiness at will. The fine trumpeter Peter Evans, also reported to implement piccolo trumpet and baritone horn on this outing, likewise has technique to spare, sporting by turns precision to rival Marsalis and controlled, inspired looseness that suggests an affinity with Don Cherry. The leader's bass is recorded here, alas, heavily. He and drummer Kevin Shea certainly manage to swing the band through the required passages and assume a perfectly satisfactory free pulse at the appropriate moments.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.