Slippery Rock! (Hot Cup Records; 2013)
Jon Iragbagon (sax)
Kevin Shea (drums)
Peter Evans (trumpet)
Moppa Elliott (bass)
I don't know how they do it, but with each record, MOPDTK get wilder with clever humour and intricate creative compositions. Non-secquitor song titles and ironic covers hide a quartet of immense power and quality. On their newest release, Slippery Rock! they again bring an electricity and excitement that intertwines a jam session with a revival.
Opening with the soaring and multi-layered "Hearts Content," the quartet set in for more of a rock oriented groove through Shea's crisp timing and Elliott's funky bassline before the tune quickly gets turned on its head. Rhythms and patterns that are circular, jump cutting and then linear - all still with precision and avant garde accuracy. Stunning!
"Can't Tell Shipp From Shohola," a bluesy ballad with minor improvised periods highlights the ability of MOPDTK to shift styles but still maintain a sense of adventure and airiness that pulls in both casual and well-seasoned listeners.
The rhythm and blues side of jazz is always present throughout the group's existence. And it is on display here with "Sayre" and "Yo, Yeo, Yough." Both pieces have soulful elements filling the forefront but with intense concentration on reshaping everything else. This can be heard on the improvised section of "Yo, Yeo, Yough." Elliott and Irabagon have very hard-pounding arrangements riding along side a fierce set of patterns laid out by Shea.
"Is Granny Spry?" is a nice way to close another interesting journey in the world of MOPDTK. The album is somehow dedicated to smooth jazz of the '70s and '80s but you would never really know it. Parts of "Is Granny Spry?" give a hint at what was going on in the mind of this group as they were writing and performing. It is soulful and melodic with heartwarming passages. And just when you think this is where the funk comes in--they change direction and leave you with question marks all over your face.
Scattered lines and chords show Mostly Other People Do The Killing as a group that really don't want to be confined to the definition of jazz and whatever its subsets may be. This is a group that is having fun with every note and every structure. Slippery Rock! is yet another bright spot that once you're under the MOPDTK spell - you can't get out. Highly Recommended.