Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jon Irabagon - Inaction is an Action (Irrabagast Records, 2015)

Jon Irabagon is one of the most interesting musicians on the modern jazz scene. He plays in one of the most consistently arousing bands of the day, Mostly other People Do the Killing, while keeping up a very active career as a solo musician and as high profile sideman with the likes of Dave Douglas and Barry Altchul. This is one of his most ambitious projects, an album of unaccompanied sopranino saxophone. The song “Acrobat” has a raw sound that is a call to attention for listeners, like a siren of high pitched noise. The music moves into a section of raw grittiness, creating grating swirls like a craftsman sanding down woodwork. He uses abrasive and exciting popping sounds and then plays them off against sections of silence for good effect. Quick sounds of clicking and nearly conversational sounds open “What Have We Here” before moving into very low moaning low tones like something you might hear from a movie monster from the deep. Even though this might be considered a very “avant-garde” album, Irabagon’s wonderful wit shines through here, with a wide array of sounds from those akin to a deep throated frog to that of a straw sucking the last drops of soda from the cup. “The Best Kind of Sad” is a ballad with long tones of saxophone recalling a late night longing for something or someone lost and filled with emotional pain. Juxtaposing sharp, high pitched sounds with short phrases, give the music a deep emotional poignancy. A very fast high pitched skittering ticking drone is felt on “Liquid Fire” which quickly builds to a nearly inhuman pace building to an auditory kaleidoscope of color. This is wonderfully thrilling music taken at a breakneck speed with incredible control. This album worked quite well, it is certainly not for everybody, but as an example of the wide range of music that Jon Irabagon is capable of, it is invaluable. It shows a strong desire for him to explore jazz and improvised music in all of its forms. Inaction Is an Action -

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