Bryan and the Haggards: Still Alive and Kickin’ Down the Walls

Joining forces with Chicago guitarist Jon Lundborn and Australian drummer Danny Fischer, as well as two members of the renegade outfit Mostly Other People Do the Killing (alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Moppa Elliott), tenor saxophonist Bryan Murray has fashioned a daring punk-jazz ensemble with lots of ironic appeal. On their second release, they again tackle the music of country legend Merle Haggard with avant-tongue-in-cheek. Lundborn brings equal parts twang and skronk to tunes like “Ramblin’ Fever” and “Mixed Up Mess of a Heart,” while Murray and Irabagon engage in scorching Pharoah Sanders-meets-John Zorn exchanges on top of the steady country two-beat groove. “Seeing Eye Dog” is an infectious twist number with uninhibited free-jazz blowing by the two horns, and the New Orleans stroll “Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star” sounds like an odd jam between Link Wray and Eric Dolphy. It’s a weird mix, to say the least, like what you’d imagine dancing to at David Lynch’s wedding reception.