Is there anything Moppa Elliott won’t try? The restless bassist, high school teacher, arranger, composer, and leader of the iconoclastic, genre-hopping, lineup-shifting, avant-jazz band Mostly Other People Do the Killing has done everything from Dixieland destructions to a note-for-note remake of Kind of Blue. On his new two-CD set, the so-very-accurately titled Jazz Band/Rock Band/Dance Band, Elliott presents three “albums” by three groups. Each is excellent on its own. Together they constitute an incomparable offering.
The jazz band—which calls itself Advancing on a Wild Pitch—features trombonist Sam Kulik, baritone saxophonist Charles Evans, pianist Danny Fox, and drummer Christian Coleman. Every one of its songs sounds like an outtake from Mingus Ah Um: the swinging horn interplay on “Herminie,” the Pink Panther slinkiness of “Can’t Tell Shipp From Shohola,” the playful theme of “Oreland.” Over six tunes, Elliott expresses an exuberant fondness for the friskier side of hard bop. (All the songs on these discs are named for cities and towns in Elliott’s home state of Pennsylvania, following the convention he’s used for 15 years.)