Friday, March 1, 2013

Mostly Other People Do the Killing, Slippery Rock!

No other group out there can match Mostly Other People Do the Killing for over-the-top, madcap ensemble jazz that manages to convey strongly a sense of good-natured snideness. Not since the classic days of the Art Ensemble of Chicago has there been a band that makes excellent, advanced jazz and nevertheless has a humorous side that takes a loving jab at the music as it happens to exist right now.

Slippery Rock! (Hot Cup 123) is their latest, a send up of smooth jazz that is just so good that it does not scream "parody" as much as uses it as a stepping stone to some beautiful playing.

In its two-horn front line of Peter Evans, trumpet, and Jon Irabagon on saxes and flute, it has some of the very best of the younger players, really astounding cats who absorb tradition and make it something very much their own, and funny too when they choose to be so. The rhythm section of Moppa Elliott, bass, and Kevin Shea, drums, has tremendous vitality and thrust, great ideas, and the ability to go in and out on the turn of a dime, so to say.

Moppa writes all the music and it's excellent. It gets some corking good jabs in there at the same time, taking the standard, sometimes rather weak hard bop derived funkiness of the smooth crowd and transforming it, giving it lots of balls and a big horse laugh in there somewhere too. The band plays it all with such exuberance, it's as if either you or they will soon explode, with joy, with irreverance, with glee, and it's not clear if you or the band will be spontaneously combusting first!

That's probably all I need to say about this album. Mostly Other People Do the Killing are central. They are important. And they can smoke you like nobody out there, almost nobody anyway. This new one will get you into the ozone and all with some great good-humor-man bells and popsicles!

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