MOSTLY OTHER PEOPLE DO THE KILLING – Forty Fort

Hot Cup

If “smooth” jazz (by the way, what the hell does that mean?) is comparable to a classic seduction in lingerie frequently ending in a “sorry-darling-it-was-not-my-night” failure, Mostly Other People Do The Killing are the big-bosom freckled girl that plops on your pelvis and proceeds to teach you everything in a single lesson. Arrived at the fourth release, this quartet stuffs such a number of influences, quotes, ideas and parallel dimensions in the hour of Forty Fort that following its totality might become an arduous task if the concentration is not on ten. That’s right, a brain can absorb only that much; yet the difficulty of assimilation is compensated by the amazing musicianship of the members, all recognized masters of their trade. The old commonplace according to which “the improvisation is so well executed that it sounds composed” is here totally subverted: Moppa Elliott’s scores (he wrote eight of the nine tunes) are a concoction of bent normalcy and unexpected incidents where even the notated parts sound unrehearsed. Maybe they are, who knows.

Stax, Weather Report, Albert Ayler, Brazilian Bossa, Sheena Easton, Spike Jones. These are names – some of them suggested by the press sheet, others by my own fantasies and associations – that flash in the mind while listening. The guys are enthusiastic in their proposals but not exactly attached to anything. Peter Evans, the greatest trumpeter around independently of the genre, has the chance to show both his scary technical command and the capacity of exchanging lines, noises and paradoxes with the fellow unprincipled virtuoso who goes under the name of (tenor and alto saxophonist) Jon Irabagon, the latter’s motley visions of contrapuntal partnership symbolizing the mutilation of the conventional role of a reedist in a combo. Indignation and joy advance on matching terms, often generating veritable sparkles of dissolution, ultimately returning to an easy theme in the flick of a switch. The couple meshes grippingly with Elliott’s arco too, the frenzy crescendo at the end of “Blue Ball” a typical example of cantankerous discharge flowing into an abrupt, or plain absurd conclusion (which the record definitely doesn’t lack). Kevin Shea’s torrential drumming is perfect for the scope: the man’s categorical antipathy against whatever resembles an ordinary fragmentation of a pulse corresponds to a fundamental engine for the music’s bouncy mocking of idioms. Not to mention the preposterous “drum solo” before the finish of the closing track, Neal Hefti’s “Cute”.

Elliott – a teacher by day, an excellent bassist and composer by night – achieved what not many artists are entitled to brag about: writing complex and humorous music that occasionally throws us in mild puzzlement, nonetheless energized by the infectious joie de vivre of these instrumentals. MOPDTK confirm themselves among the cream of multi-nourished musicians whose disapproval of fossilization is expressed without reticence, politeness be damned. This is a great CD that deserves recurring spins, and the liner notes (written by “Leonardo Featherweight” – pure genius!) are another curve ball to unsuspecting consumers.

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