Label: Irabbagast Records, 2018
Personnel – Jon Irabagon: tenor saxophone; Tim Hagans: trumpet; Luis Perdomo: piano; Yasushi Nakamura: double bass; Rudy Royston: drums.
Searchers and enthusiasts of contemporary jazz will probably agree with me about the works of saxophonist Jon Irabagon being a must-listen. Let me add that his explosive new album of originals, Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics, is one of his very best. Portentous trumpeter Tim Hagans was invited to join the saxophonist’s sonically-solid quartet, which includes musicians of the highest caliber such as pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Rudy Royston. This multi-cultured, multi-perspective collective engenders giddy dynamics with the same impact they craft inventive improvisations.
“The Demon Barber of Fleet Week” kicks off with the bandleader on his own, excavating ideas from the resourceful language he has been developed throughout the years. Trenchant rock strokes lead to an effusive bass solo over a smooth funk-inflected vamp prior to accelerated circular harmonic movements swoop down on a hyperkinetic articulation of bass and drums. The occasion serves to uphold Perdomo’s fast and thunderous flurries. The earliest rock frame of mind is then regained, time when Irabagon exerts his authority on tenor.
“Emotional Psychics/The Things” invites us to another tour-de-force locomotion that rocks and swings aplomb. The well-defined structure includes concurrent logics that take into account catchy ostinatos, free rambles, galloping counterpoint, and mutable intensities and paces. Followed closely by Hagans, the saxophonist shows determination and resolve in his rhythmic ideas and melodic paths. This piece guarantees such a fun ride, swamping us in its lively extravagance.
With a natural predisposition to diversify paces and textures, the quintet digs “You Own Your Own”, a fantastic integration of written score and improvised material. A revolutionary hip-hop rhythm, sturdy bass strolls, and punchy Coltranean lines, whether delivered in unison or counterpoint, join the introductory piano with avidness. While exchanging sparkling phrases with grip and receptiveness, Hagans and Irabagon bring the house down with their vertiginous eloquence.
Carrying something gypsy or Spanish, and at the same time mixing elements of avant-garde and post-bop, “The Bo’Ness Monster” highlights not only the expeditious rides of the horn section, packed with fiery and indomitable energy, but also the remarkable piano work by Perdomo, whose melodicism gravitates between Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. His improvisation comes suffused with delightful angularities that make us beg for more.
The group eases the rampant impetuosity with “Pretty Like North Dakota”, an emotionally driven piece that starts circumspectly and ends boldly, culminating the session with a sonic description of the “Taipei Personality”. Expect percolating rhythms and syncopation, variations in motion, tight interplay, and vibrant solos.
Nothing in this music is pointless or forced, in the same way that everything is tangible, honest and risk-taking. Irabagon shows off brilliant compositional skills and a personal tenor conception that elevates him to a superior level.
01 - The Demon Barber of Fleet Week ► 02 - Emotional Psychics/The Things ► 04 - The Bo’Ness Monster