Sunday, October 14, 2018

Jon Irabagon - Dr. Quixotic's Traveling Exotics (Irabbagast Records, 2018)

Recorded while touring South America, the great jazz iconoclast Jon Irabagon sticks to tenor saxophone on this album of his own original compositions. The remainder of his band includes Tim Hagans on trumpet, Luis Perdomo on piano, Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Rudy Royston on drums. "The Demon Barber of Fleet Week" has a deceptively subtle opening for unaccompanied tenor saxophone before the rest of the band crashes in dramatically after about two minutes. The muscular full band playing opens up for an impressive bass feature, building a choppy and swelling group improvisation that has bite size chunks of melody embedded within it. Rolling and crashing rhythm section playing takes the music further afield while the leader plays short repetitive bursts which builds energy for his own solo. Bright and choppy playing leads "Emotional Physics/The Things" into play with soaring trumpet over grinding rhythm and saxophone. The music is clever and fun and the musicians run with it, making the most of the possibilities, allowing pockets of open space to develop and the tempo of the performance to flow naturally, with a gritty saxophone solo sounding free against powerful drumming and rippling piano. Perdomo gets an excellent spot to shine on the second half of the performance along with loping bass and swinging drums before the horns take flight once again and turn this track into a very powerful and bracing modern jazz performance. "You Own Your Own" has a bracing hard bop sense to it with strong horns and crisp piano, bass and drums building passionately. The horns riff and play off each other smartly, and it is like watching stunt pilots dueling high in the sky at an airshow. The music continues to evolve and develops a larger improvisational field of view, returning to the original theme for a little recharging and then heading back out to explore, creating a compelling narrative that each member of the group can add to in solo or ensemble passages. Tight rhythm section playing grounds "The Bo'ness Monster" as the horns blast out glaring sound, allowing shades of texture to develop and evolve as the horns scramble for traction on the ever changing foundation of fast and nimble drumming and piano that drive the music ever forward. "Pretty Like North Dakota" is a sparse ballad that begins with droplets of piano like crystals in space, with soft bass and spare fifties Miles like trumpet painting along the edges of the performance, with the leader's saxophone coming last and adding a subtle grace to the music. The music develops gradually, over fifteen minutes in length, growing more powerful as the time goes by with lush sections for the full band and ear catching solo statements as well. The finale "Taipei Personality" is a witty and thoughtful performance that begins with chunky rhythm and saxophone carving out space amidst longer arcs of trumpet, leading to a classy and stylish conclusion. Dr. Quixotic's Traveling Exotics -

Send comments to Tim.