Blowing up Mostly Other People Do the Killing from its core quartet to a septet may seem like an invitation to dance on the musical third rail. The group that has always straddled the broad and fuzzy line between tradition and chaotic improvisation, has nevertheless managed that process with a mixture of sophistication, revelation and unbridled enthusiasm. Loafer's Hollow is a surprising entry to their catalog of one-dozen releases.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing, the bad boys of jazz, don't quite turn in a straight ahead hard bop album with Mauch Chunk, but it's as close as they are likely to get. The new quartet has pianist Ron Stabinsky in place of longtime trumpeter Peter Evans—which seems to ground the group sound—and there's less obvious classic jazz deconstruction and quotation than normal. Saxophonist Jon Irabagon stays on alto for the entire session, something he has not done in awhile. The sort-of title tune "Mauch Chunk is Jim Thorpe" opens the program with a jaunty swing, and it stays in character…but Irabagon can't resist throwing in a quote from the standard "Misty" during his solo.
Mostly Other People Do the Killing have recreated one of the greatest and most important jazz albums of all time. By attempting to make an identical copy of the original recording, this album poses several interesting questions about music in the 21st century.
I've been too busy enjoying the music of Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPTDK) to realize how controversial they've become. If you doubt their ability to rile the jazz world, all you have to do is post one of their videos on your Facebook page and wait for the ensuing kerfuffle to begin. The core band is comprised of four virtuoso instrumentalists, free-spirits who think nothing of hopping from honest-to-god punk rock, to free improv, to hard bop, to Americana, and back; sometimes in the space of a single track. Many of their original compositions, written by bassist Moppa Elliott, have the outward appearance of overlooked post-bop and bebop gems from the mid-1950s and early 60s.
Mostly Other Peopele Do the Killing is back! And with it the rightly slandered genre of smooth jazz. This quintet's fifth studio album was penned by MOPDtK bassist Moppa Elliott after a lengthy immersion in the smooth jazz recordings of the late 1970s and '80s. Elliott extracted certain idiomatic phrases, harmonies and embellishments from this superficial and commercial style, incorporated into his own compositions and used all the quartet members' encyclopedic knowledge to shed new light on this often maligned sub-genre.
If Mostly Other People Do the Killing seems to be all about cleverness –mysterious band name, calling their fourth album Forty Fort, Impulse!-like cover art, pseudo-brainiac liner notes by "Leonardo Featherweight," a goof on jazz critic of renown Leonard Feather – well, there is that. Even those who profess to disdain jazz's avant-garde, into which school this certainly falls, may very well be sucked in by the sheer fun of it all. From the first track, "Pen Argyl," the quartet – Moppa Elliott (bass), Peter Evans (trumpet), Jon Irabagon (alto and tenor saxophone), and Kevin Shea (drums, elecronics) – makes it clear that as serious as they are, they're not all that serious.
Bassist Moppa Elliot is clearly fond of Ornette Coleman's music, and this second quartet date with his unctuously titled band Most Other People Do the Killing, or MOPDTK for short, expands on that influence. Free swing and funk with a piquant edge, a taste for harmelodics, ragged rhythm, and approximate note phrases identify their sound. Trumpeter Peter Evans and alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, two notable rising star jazz improvisers, create the tension-and-release elements that spark this music, backed by Elliott's playful and bold basslines and the loose, craggy drumming of Kevin Shea.
Devoid is the brainchild of French guitarist Shad Mae and features vocalist Carsten ‘Lizard’ Schulz (Evidence One and many other guest vocal spots), keyboardist Jorris Guilbaud, bassist Ben Toquet and drummer Ben Wanders. Joining this core of musicians are guest guitarists Mattias Ia Eklundh (Freak Kitchen), Daniel Palmqvist (Beyond The Katakomb), Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear) and Henrik Danhage (Evergrey)…