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Mostly Other People Do the Killing: Mauch Chunk

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With traditional acoustic jazz instrumentation but a punk-ish name and attitude, New York City quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing practically demands listeners expect the unexpected. Its eighth release, Mauch Chunk, features longtime members Moppa Elliott, the bassist and leader, alto saxophonist Jon Irabagon and drummer Kevin Shea, plus pianist Ron Stabinsky, a more recent addition. The inspired album concept furthers the dichotomy.

Pennsylvania native Elliott composed all seven tracks, and he continues his tradition of naming tunes after towns in his native state. Or, in the case of the opening “Mauch Chunk Is Jim Thorpe,” former towns. Inspired by Henry Threadgill, the minor-key shuffle encapsulates the quartet’s mantra of “conflict and collaboration,” telling the story, in chaotic instrumental terms, of how a coal mining hub was renamed after a Native American Olympian for the benefit of commerce. Irabagon’s sax, in particular, creates a cacophony, a recurring theme.

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