Mostly Other People’s killer liner notes

Mostly Other People Do The Killing is a super-serious-with-a-sense-of-humor Philadelphia-based  quartet paying homage to Ornette Coleman with its hot new album This Is Our Moosic.The cd’s cover photo cops and mocks the oh-so-cool look of Coleman’s earth-shaking quartet on its classic 1960 release This Is Our Music 


but more impressive is the young band’s music, which in its leader’s explicit liner notes endorses Coleman’s revolutionary “free jazz”  concept and in ensemble play expands upon it without being imitative. A nominee for best album of the year? 

I’ll have to listen a bit more and consider the other approximately 1100 recordings received for review since last November before I put it at the top of my 10 list, but upon first run-throughs certain pleasures are clear. This Is Our Moosic features the exuberant front line of saxophonist Jon Irabagon — who two weeks ago won the Thelonious Monk International Competition, judged by an impressive corp of today’s finest reedsplayers — and trumpeter Peter Evans, one of a handful of gloriously rising brass players (Taylor Ho Bynum and Jonathan Finlayson are two more). The excellent drummer (a great jazz band must have an excellent drummer — the World Saxophone Quartet being the exception proving the rule) is Kevin Shea, and the band’s founder and composer is bassist Moppa Elliott, who wrote these fearless, quotable liner notes:

Ornette was and is extremely aware of both how his music fits into a greater historical narrative, and how it challenges conventional history by questioning the concepts of musical “value,” “hierarchy,” and “quality.” By following his lead, and the contributions made by Charles Mingus, the AACM, the ICP Orchestra, Clusone Three, and others, we have arrived at the conclusion that non-linearity, stratification and fragmentation of musical ideas create the kind of jazz we love to play. . . When the Ornette Coleman Quartet performs a piece, traditional notions of “correct/incorrect,” in-tune/out-of-tune and “intentionality/actuality” disappear. . .For the past forty years, Ornette’s groups have stressed an interactive approach to group improvisation helping to liberate rhythm section players. His ideas combined with those of Attali, Cage, Bailey, etc., have helped us to think about group performance as a social experience, one in which the exchange of ideas is constantly in flux, and no one is quite sure who (if anyone) is actually leading the conversation.

In other words, democracy in action. Could hardly write it better myself.

The best thing is, the music sounds like fun. And, writes Elliott, 

For us, “fun” means risk and parody and chaos and pop and beauty and bebop and dissonance and smooth jazz and sometimes breaking things.

If any of that’s your idea of a good time, Moosic will not disappoint. There’s always something to happening on this album worth listening to, usually several things simultaneously, distinct and yet together, insouciant and unpredictable, leading to — smiles. Way to go, guys.
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  1. says

    I loved Shamokin!!!
    Did you hear MOPDtK at Zebulon two weeks ago?
    HM: Hey Martin, no I missed that performance, though I’d pencilled it into my schedule. Nothing like catching live music to confirm (or refute) enthusiasm for a recording ensemble. I heard Taylor Ho Bynum at the Jazz Gallery on Friday night, though, in trio with guitarist Mary Halvorson and drummer Tomas Fujiwara and then in sextet that included violinist Jason Hwang, and perhaps that was a commensurate pleasure. Also, last night I attended a “house concert” near my remote Brooklyn neighborhood featuring pianist Lucian Ban and saxophonist Sam Newsome, which was quite pleasing, in part because 40-some listeners lent rapt attention in a living room setting, demonstrating how smart and devoted the audience members are, interested in non-traditional venues and an intimate musical event.