Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jon Irabagon - It Takes All Kinds (Irabbagast/Jazzwerkstatt Records, 2014)

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon has spent years at the forefront of modern jazz, as a solo artist, member of the wonderful group Mostly Other People Do the Killing and as a sideman for numerous artists such as Dave Douglas. This album has eight original compositions recorded live at the 2013 Peitz Festival, supported by Barry Altschul on drums and Mark Helias on bass. Irabagon has a very interesting way of improvising, often taking a short idea and repeating it over and over, building momentum, spinning with centrifugal force, before breaking free from orbit on a fast paced and deeply personal journey. This is demonstrated on “Wherewithal” where the tension builds and builds until finally breaking free into a torrid improvisation. The interaction between the group members is excellent and while this album may be under Irabagon’s name, it is really a united trio effort between the three musicians. Irabagon was featured on Altschul’s 3Dom Factor album last year and they have a simpatico understanding of rhythm and pacing. Helias is excellent as well, and his bowed bass is particularly interesting adding texture that allows the other two musicians to take the music in new and unexpected ways. Irabagon’s small group performances are always exciting, whether ripping through explosive improvisations with Mike Pride, or starting his relationship with Barry Altschul with the epochal 70 minute plus non-stop improvisation Foxy. This album takes the best of both aspects of his musical approach combining lyrical song with flat-out free improv to make an excellent and compelling album. It Takes All Kinds - amazon.com

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