This is Our Moosic
Mostly Other People Do the Killing loves Pennsylvania, loves Ornette Coleman and loves poking fun at itself and the entirety of jazz. Maybe not necessarily in that order, but you get the drift quickly. Billing itself as a “bebop terrorist band,” the quartet’s appropriation of Coleman’s legendary cover art—MOPDTK’s new album’s suit-and-tie take on 1960’s This is Our Music, its previous CD’s aping of Coleman’s Something Else! of 1958—is the initial signal of the foursome’s adoration of the composer/avant-sax colossus. But on a purely visceral level, it is the muscular quirk of bandleader/bassist Moppa Elliot, trumpeter/Lester Bowie acolyte Peter Evans, drummer Kevin Shea and surly saxophonist Jon Irabagon that makes you crave the Killing. Beyond bop and Ornette’s flinty free-form mood swings and chordal improvisations, MOPDTK swing, saunter and barrel through Elliot’s compositions like garrulous clown punks attempting and achieving the goodly art of graceful dancing.
There is aggression and shifting tempi at work from the start, the eight-minute-long “Drainlick.” There, Shea seems to interrupt Elliot’s melodic rhythm and pace, clumsily kicking the cool like a can through an alleyway until each man meets at one space before being joined by Evans and Irabagon’s idea of a boogaloo. Then things get complicated. While the short-form Dixie (out)land of “Too Boot Jacks” nervously follows along similar lines, “Fagundus” sounds confident and charged with a blaring, screeching Irabagon and a woozy Evans infusing its fly-away rhythms with zestful potency. There is fun to be had (Billy Joel’s “Allentown” is given a Neal Hefti-esque arrangement) and life’s cabarets (“The Bats in the Belfry”) to be challenged. But it’s Elliot’s melodies—sharply pronounced, hokey and theatrical—that are most memorable. They allow his players to get messy and lost but to find their way back even after the fracas caused by his and Shea’s manic pulses. Who wouldn’t want to come home to something so fun and memorable?