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.

While Classic Jazz fanciers probably won’t be offended, sardonic Red Hot is no by-rote Dixieland-recreation. For a start, MOPDtK bassist Moppa Elliott composed the nine selections, and each draws on a conservatory full of influences. On the title track for instance, there are echoes of sci-fi-like electronic processing plus clunking banjo twangs, both created by Brandon Seabrook. Meanwhile the two-step melody is extended by pianist Ron Stabinsky’s ragtime-styled pumps, and climaxes when Jon Irabagon’s C-Melody sax wails pierces the connective four-horn vamp.

Atmospherically (post) modern and Good Time music in equal measure, the CD demonstrates clearly how many avant-garde tropes like broken-octave sax peeps or squeezed, and hectoring brass tones actually have a long history. It also shows how top-flight music can be made up of many inferences. Elliott, for instance, begins Turkey Foot Corner not with Trad Jazz bass string slaps but spiccato plucks, that while undoubtedly modern, blends seamlessly into a two-beat band arrangement that emphasizes bass trombone guffaws from David Taylor.

—Ken Waxman

— For Whole Note Vol. 19 #1