Reviews that mention Jon Irabagon

November 2, 2019

Jon Irabagon

Invisible Horizon
Irabbagast Records 014/015

Traditional album nomenclature would probably have titled this two-CD sets, The Two sides of Jon Irabagon, But even though the discs are more-or-less split between demonstrations of his composing and playing skill, the American saxophonist’s mature concepts are more open and refined than what would usually be defined by those hoary designations.

For a start while Irabagon long-ago proved his ability to easily fit into contemporary modern situations with ensembles such as Mostly Other People Do the Killing and Dave Douglas’ band, both discs are divorced from that particular category. The Dark Horizon CD for instance is an eight track reed exploration, dedicated to singular, jagged overblowing and related extended techniques with a rare saxophone. Using a recording space with a unique 13-second delay, Irabagon ups the originality factor here by improvising ideas using the on the spottily manufactured and preserved mezzo soprano saxophone. Two tracks which open and close Invisible Guests, the other CD, deviate only slightly from this concept. Although playing a conventional sopranino, rather than the mezzo soprano, these vignettes feature the saxophonist exploring the instrument’s extended limits, playing with a mouthpiece on one track and without one on the other. Backing comes from the Mivos Quartet of Olivia de Prato and Lauren Cauley Kala’s violins, Victor Lowrie Tafoya’s viola and Mariel Roberts’ cello. MORE

March 18, 2018

Matt Mitchell

A Pouting Grimace
Pi Recordings 71

Onze Heures Onze Orchestra

Vol 1

Onzeheurs Onze ONZ020

Having a singular, original vision is often cited as the best way to create outstanding music, more so when, as on these sessions here, concepts can be communicated to a large ensemble. Yet individualism doesn’t necessarily edge out a collegial approach. New York-based keyboardist Matt Mitchell for instance obviously aimed to create an original take on contemporary sounds that mixed notated, improvisational and electronic tropes, and he rounded up a dozen of the city’s most accomplished players to interpret his 10 compositions. Yet all too often on A Pouting Grimace, the composer and his associates appear to be leaping from one idea to another, exposing a variety of concepts, but with no logical continuum that draws together the detonating themes. MORE

February 6, 2015

Jon Lundbom Big Five Chord

Jeremiah
Hot Cup 142

By Ken Waxman

Happily Jon Lundbom is a guitarist. For if the leader of Big Five Chord played a horn he might have trouble improvising with his tongue stuck firmly in his check. Composer and chief instigator of Jeremiah’s seven tracks, the now Austin-based Lundbom, like his Hot Cup label mate and Big Five Chord bassist Moppa Elliott, creates hard-swinging tunes that also have a sardonic edge.

Chief sidekick in providing these sly sonic winks as the tunes are performed is saxophonist Bryan Murray, leader of the country/jazz unit Bryan & the Haggards, of which the guitarist is also a member. Throughout Murray emphasizes the disruptive qualities of his horns, with the timbres from tenor saxophone and balto! saxophone – an alto with a baritone mouthpiece and a plastic reed – snarling and stretching sandpaper-like tones as if he’s bar-walking in the funkiest roadhouse imaginable. Prime example of this is on “First Harvest” as the tenor’s hard-edged growl leaps out to toughen up the meandering melody. Also in on the mordant japes in this, the Five Chords’ seventh CD, are soprano saxophonist Jon Irabagon, trombonist Sam Kulik and Justin Wood on alto saxophone and flute. Drummer Dan Monaghan and Elliott keep the beat constantly shifting between shuffle and swing. Meantime another of the session's highlights occurs on “Scratch Ankle”, where a thrilling exchange of unbridled enthusiasm between the trombonist’s drooling, gutbucket smears and Irabagon’s slippery nasality is framed by controlled melodic lines. MORE

November 11, 2014

Festival Report

Sibiu Jazz and More
By Ken Waxman

Situated in the dead center of Romania, Sibiu is a fortified medieval city of winding streets, whose hub is the connected Grand (Piața Mare) and Lesser (Piața Mica) squares, where every building appears to be of historical importance. Populated by citizens of German, Transylvanian and Romanian background, it seems appropriate that the Jazz and More (JAM) Festival highlighted high-quality international improvisers annually.

Chicago drummer Tim Daisy was one player whose performance and demeanor reflected Sibiu’s cooperative history during JAM’s 10th edition October 3 to 5. Not only did he turn in a spectacular display of free jazz interaction with long-time partner tenor and alto saxophonist Dave Rempis at JAM’s main venue, the soft-seated Teatrul Gong, but later that same night played a sympathetic duet set with Bucharest-based pianist Mircea Tiberian at the basement Bohemian Flow club in Piața Mica, then participated in a jam session that went on to 5 a.m. With Rempis, an animated Daisy bounced up, down as he clanked and clicked every variety of cymbals, blocks, bells, chains and other paraphernalia. In contrast the reedist stood stock still, reeling out stuttering, slurring or slashing phrases in many registers and intensities which angled perfectly into the drummer’s narratives Adding rhythmic blues riffs and Africanized inflections to tonal deconstruction, the duo ensured that each improvisation flowed logically from thematic roots and swung hard in its own fashion. Feeling his way with Tiberian, who craftily extracted multi-hued rhythm plus Monk-like single-note emphasis from an electric piano, Daisy was initially deferential. Quickly through drum-top dusting gave way to resonating buzzes and echoing strokes. By the time Tiberian was mixing staccato smears with dramatic theme extensions, the drummer uncorked enough rocking clatter to echo off the club’s stained brick walls. MORE

September 26, 2014

Jon Irabagon

It Takes All Kinds
JazzWerkstatt JW 139

Assif Tsahar/Mark Dresser/Gerry Hemingway

Code Re(a)d

Hopscotch Records HOP48

Two youngish tenor saxophonists provide their own takes on the classic sax-double bass-drums formation with these discs attaining, but not surpassing, the praxis defined by progenitors like Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler and Joe Henderson. Very much Free Jazz rather than Free Music, each CD has eight tracks and each is splendidly performed. The main demarcation is that Jon Irabagon’s It Takes All Kinds is a saxophone tour-de-force backed by a veteran rhythm section, whereas Code Re(a)d is more of a group effort with contributions from reedist Assif Tsahar, bassist Mark Dresser and percussionist Gerry Hemingway. MORE

December 13, 2013

Mary Halvorson Septet

Illusionary Sea
Firehouse 12 Records FH12-04-01-017

More enterprising than most of her earlier discs, New York guitarist Mary Halvorson created this series of compositions for an expanded ensemble, most of whose members she works with in other contexts. The results are audacious, proving that the guitarist, who first made her reputation with Anthony Braxton, is a sophisticated composer as well as soloist.

That said many of the tracks have a resemblance to Henry Threadgill’s jaunty writing for similar-sized ensembles. But, as would be expected, while Threadgill emphasizes low brass and rhythm, Halvorson’s weight is more on guitar and saxophones. Dividing the reed duties here are alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon and tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, while the rhythm section consists of bassist John Hébert and drummer Ches Smith. Brass power arrives from trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and trombonist Jacob Garchik. Garchik’s and Laubrock’s contributions were added to the others who usually make up the guitarist’s working quintet, so her challenge was reconceptualising the five-part arrangements for seven. Listening to the sympathetic outcome though, you’d never know that the pieces hadn’t been created for that configuration from the get-go. MORE

September 14, 2013

Mostly Other People Do The Killing

Red Hot
Hot Cup HC 125

By Ken Waxman

Trumpeter Peter Evans, who along with drummer Weasel Walter, bassist Tom Blancarte and pianist Charity Chan is featured at a Punk-Jazz-Improv concert at the Array Music space on September 4, has quickly become one of jazz’s most in-demand and versatile brass men. Proficient elsewhere playing atonal music, this CD by an expanded version of the co-op Mostly Other People Do The Killing (MOPDtK) group finds the New York-based brass man helping to create a respectful but sophisticated take on early jazz. That Evans has mammoth chops is without question, and you can note that on Zelienople, where following a wood-block [!] break from drummer Kevin Shea, Evans’ open-horn exposition is bird-song sweet at one instance and growly as a wart hog by the next. Meanwhile on Orange is the Name of the Town, he fires off triplet patterns after triplet patterns with aplomb. MORE

August 28, 2013

Barry Altschul

The 3Dom Factor
TUM CD 032

Maintaining his creativity after more than 50 years as a professional musician, this first-rate CD of improvisations and mostly originals by drummer Barry Altschul, 70, proves that when it comes to the creative musician, age is just a number.

Over the years Altschul, who lived for extended periods in France as well as the United States, has provided the rhythmic impetus behind innovators ranging from veterans like pianist Paul Bley and saxophonist Sam Rivers to younger players such as bassist Adam Lane. The 3Dom Factor offers more of the same. Versatile bassist Joe Fonda is a decade younger than the drummer, while fiery tenor saxophonist Jon Irabagon is 35 years his junior. Still it’s accord and experience which account for the sympathetic interaction here. Altschul, Fonda and the late violinist Billy Bang made up the FAB trio; while bassist Mark Helias and Altschul fill out Irabagon’s Foxy trio. Crucially the session also gives the drummer an opportunity to revisit some of his compositions first recorded in the 1970s and 1980s. MORE

July 4, 2013

Festival Report:

JazzWeksttatt Peitz
By Ken Waxman

More than 40 years after East Germany’s so-called free jazz paradise regularly attracted Woodstock-sized crowds to this town, about 20 kilometres from the Polish border – and three years after it was revived after a 29-year government-nudged hiatus – JazzWeksttatt Peitz is still working to define its identity

Celebrated in its earlier days as perhaps the one place young East Germans could camp in the open air and experience Western-styled peace and love vibes, albeit with a jazz rather than a rock soundtrack, the festival celebrated its 50th program June 7-9, inviting 21 acts to perform in four different venues, with “open air” now an enclosed tent with rows of chairs. MORE

June 13, 2013

Festival Report:

Ulrichsberger Kaleidophon
By Ken Waxman

Metaphorically and literally the 2013 edition of the Ulrichsberger Kaldeidophon moved further afield than usual for a festival that has taken place annually at the Jazzatelier in this Austrian alpine village of 3,000 inhabitants near Linz. Not only were improvisers from the UK, US, Eastern and Western Europe represented, but for the first time, a concert for clavichord by Japan’s Makiko Nishikaze took place in a restored 14th Century church in Glöckelberg/Zvonkonva, about 10 kilometres away in the Czech Republic. MORE

March 20, 2013

Joe Hertenstein/Achim Tang/Jon Irabagon

Future Drone
Jazzwerkstatt JW 126

Mikolaj Trzaska/Olie Brice/Mark Sanders

Riverloam Trio

No Business Records NBLP 52/NBLP 53

With experimenters such as Sonny Rollins, Peter Brötzmann and Ornette Coleman having pioneered the reed/bass/drum trio as a paramount improvisatory vehicle nearly a half century ago, mercurial efforts like these are almost expected in terms of Free Jazz elaboration. Yet such is the malleability of the process that each of these trans-nationalist efforts defines its strategy differently. MORE

July 7, 2011

Festival Report:

Moers Festival June 10 to 12, 2011
By Ken Waxman

Ornette Coleman’s performance at Germany’s Moers Festival was the surprise birthday present celebrating the 40th anniversary of Moers, which takes place annually in this town, about 50 miles from Cologne. Announced earlier, cancelled, and rescheduled, the jazz legend’s performance wasn’t even noted in the official program. Appearing on the fest’s final night, Coleman’s quartet turned in a suitably magisterial set, with the leader, dapper in a suit, infusing his tongue flutters and altissimo reed cries with genuine emotion. Segueing through short selections including classics like “Dancing in Your Head” and “Lonely Woman”, the alto saxophonist’s lines swooped, swerved and sighed, bringing a distinct country blues sensibility to everything he played. MORE

April 29, 2010

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord

Accomplish Jazz
Hot Cup 093

Mostly Other People Do The Killing

Forty Fort

Hot Cup 091

Pastiche, post-modernism and parody are the words that come to mind when examining discs by these youngish interconnected improvisers. Having expanded their chops in post-secondary academic surroundings; having internalized the message of downtowners like John Zorn that no music is sacrosanct; and having adopted the D-I-Y ethic of indie-rockers to release their own recordings – plus possessing formidable talent – these musicians have quickly made names for themselves. Yet as swinging and entertaining as many of the tracks are on these CDs – and they are that in spades – the question of what the next step should be for these seven players hangs in the air. MORE

April 29, 2010

Mostly Other People Do The Killing

Forty Fort
Hot Cup 091

Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord

Accomplish Jazz

Hot Cup 093

Pastiche, post-modernism and parody are the words that come to mind when examining discs by these youngish interconnected improvisers. Having expanded their chops in post-secondary academic surroundings; having internalized the message of downtowners like John Zorn that no music is sacrosanct; and having adopted the D-I-Y ethic of indie-rockers to release their own recordings – plus possessing formidable talent – these musicians have quickly made names for themselves. Yet as swinging and entertaining as many of the tracks are on these CDs – and they are that in spades – the question of what the next step should be for these seven players hangs in the air. MORE

November 2, 2009

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel
Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?
Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York
Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche

Clean Feed CF 121 CD

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

November 2, 2009

RIDD Quartet

Fiction Avalanche
Clean Feed CF 121 CD

Harris Eisenstdat

Guewel

Clean Feed CF 123 CD

Andy Milne-Benoît Delbecq

Where is Pannonica?

Songlines SGL SA-1579-2

Michael Bates’ Outside Sources

Live in New York

Greenleaf Paperback Series Vol 4

EXTENDED PLAY: Canadians at Home and Aboard

By Ken Waxman

Ancient but apt, the saying “you can take a boy out of the country, but can’t take the country out of the boy” is more accurate if the country is Canada and the “boys” are male and female musicians in the United States. No matter how busy they are, improvisers are always ready to play north of the border. Last month, for instance, Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based drummer Harris Eisenstadt played two Toronto shows in one day before continuing an American tour. MORE

February 8, 2009

Mostly Other People Do the Killing

This Is Our Moosic
Hot Cup 082

Jon Irabagon

Outright!

Innova Records 699

Alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who migrated from suburban Chicago to Astoria, Queens, working with different bands in clubs and studying music along the way, won the 21st annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition last October. On the evidence of these CDs, it’s easy to see why.

Possessed of an upfront style, strong chops and a thorough understanding of the tradition, Irabagon composes swinging and sometimes complex tunes and is a mainstream polymath who obviously impressed representatives of the jazz establishment who hand out awards. No show-boater, the reedist takes only slightly more solo space on his debut session as he gets on This Is Our Moosic and is surrounded on both discs by the highest grade of young New York-centred talent. Overall though, he fares better as one interlocking clog of bassist Moppa Elliott’s extravagantly named Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK), then on his own. MORE

February 8, 2009

Jon Irabagon

Outright!
Innova Records 699

Mostly Other People Do the Killing

This Is Our Moosic

Hot Cup 082

Alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon, who migrated from suburban Chicago to Astoria, Queens, working with different bands in clubs and studying music along the way, won the 21st annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition last October. On the evidence of these CDs, it’s easy to see why.

Possessed of an upfront style, strong chops and a thorough understanding of the tradition, Irabagon composes swinging and sometimes complex tunes and is a mainstream polymath who obviously impressed representatives of the jazz establishment who hand out awards. No show-boater, the reedist takes only slightly more solo space on his debut session as he gets on This Is Our Moosic and is surrounded on both discs by the highest grade of young New York-centred talent. Overall though, he fares better as one interlocking clog of bassist Moppa Elliott’s extravagantly named Mostly Other People Do the Killing (MOPDtK), then on his own. MORE