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Jon Irabagon’s Outright!: Unhinged

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Saxophonist Jon Irabagon isn’t content to put all his eggs in one stylistic basket. Upon winning the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, this member of the irreverent quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing released a fine straightahead album on Concord Jazz, The Observer. He went on to release fully improvised music with drummer Barry Altschul (Foxy), and he currently plays in Dave Douglas’ quintet, among other endeavors. Irabagon’s two new releases, on his own Irabbagast imprint, feature him on tenor saxophone exclusively and will likely continue to impress and puzzle anyone who has followed this gifted performer.

Unhinged marks Irabagon’s second release with his Outright! quintet, although the lineup has been revamped. The title refers to the diverse approach Irabagon brings to the music, and it fits. Three takes of the stop-start “Camp Douglas” all have a boppish approach, but each gets sprayed with different keyboard noise. “Lola Pastillas” feels like a tango which drummer Tom Rainey pulls apart during Ralph Alessi’s trumpet solo. The theme to “Silent Smile (Urban Love Song)” begins like a sweet ballad, but Irabagon the provocateur invites a 25-piece Outright! Jazz Orchestra to go wild on top of it. The result sounds busy and chaotic, to put it mildly, yet the foundation is never lost, which keeps the whole thing intriguing.

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