Blue (Hot Cup Records; 2014)
Jon Iragbagon (sax)
Kevin Shea (drums)
Peter Evans (trumpet)
Moppa Elliott (bass)
Rob Stabinsky (piano)
Mostly Other People Do The Killing, are one of the best and most challenging ensembles around. For their latest, Blue, they've surprised everyone by playing it straight. This is a wonderful love letter to Miles Davis' (and jazz in general) iconic benchmark, Kind Of Blue.
What I was expecting was a full-on avant garde re-interpretation of the jazz opus. Instead we are treated to is a delicately laid out pattern of musicianship by the quintet. It is almost a note for note transcription but you have to listen extremely closely for the subtle details in the performances.
Iragbagon's sax is crisp throughout "So What." Certainly the best straight, traditional performance I've heard from him in awhile. Beautifully crafted too are the lines from Evans, Elliott and Stabinsky. Stabinsky, Shea and Evans show real vibrancy on "All Blues" and "Flamenco Sketches," with the trumpet and piano both high in the mix (as with the original compositions). But both pieces have slightly playful feel as added by Iragabagon's softer tone--almost like listening in a nightclub setting.
Listen, we all know its easy to record a homage like Kind Of Blue. It's also easy to completely screw it up. But what's challenging is to performance it with grace and reverence. Mostly Other People Do The Killing have done just that with Blue. A phenomenal tribute to the greatest jazz musician and his most important work in the pantheon of music in general. Highly Recommended!