Jon Irabagon, Rising Sun, Irabagon Records ****

Jon Irabagon is one of the world's great bebop saxophonists and rarely disappoints given his prodigious talent and the fact that he does not take himself too seriously. So there is often a lot of spirit and life force in whatever he does. This …

Published: 16 Sep 2022. Updated: 10 days.

Jon Irabagon is one of the world's great bebop saxophonists and rarely disappoints given his prodigious talent and the fact that he does not take himself too seriously. So there is often a lot of spirit and life force in whatever he does. This digital only record inspired by a roadtrip to South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming has several plus points. The core group includes one of the best avant pianists anywhere in Matt Mitchell. If you are a Tim Berne fan you will know what I mean. Irabagon and Mitchell certainly did the business on Snark Horse too if you recall that epic. Mitchell doesn't play particularly out so this shows his innate versatility in more niche bebop apparel. And it's Dan Weiss on drums who does sterling work habitually with Chris Potter. The bassist is also a familiar and welcome name to wrap the night around in Chris Lightcap - think Superbigmouth. The guests aren't too shabby either. And it's exciting to hear one of these the great MBASE muchacho Miles Okazaki play yes like Charlie Hunter (who would have thunk it?) on the title track. Okazaki's Thisness tantalised in 2022. Also to dig is the version of Dizzy Gillespie's 'Bebop' a piece that can't really be anything other than ragged because it's supposed to be loose. God knows what key signature and tuning Irabagon uses on it - song in the key of vinegar rolling out the barrel. More please. Be good to yourselves and start at the end why not as trumpeter Adam O'Farrill is so nice and sleazy on 'Needles' it's simply untrue. As we await the next magnum opus from Zhenya Strigalev Rising Sun satisfies all bebop hunger pangs.

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The Bad Plus, Not Even Close To Far Off, Edition ***

The Bad Plus is a completely different band stylistically nowadays even when two of its original members bassist Reid Anderson and drummmer Dave King are still on board. That's because TBP is no longer a piano trio. Is it better for that? No at …

Published: 16 Sep 2022. Updated: 11 days.

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The Bad Plus is a completely different band stylistically nowadays even when two of its original members bassist Reid Anderson and drummmer Dave King are still on board. That's because TBP is no longer a piano trio.

Is it better for that? No at least on the slim evidence of this snarlingly punkish track along with the couple of other tracks from the upcoming album streaming so far. I'll be checking out the rest for the full picture come release time hoping for at least one track to cling on to. This is the best of what we know so far.

But getting that lamentation as to change in format out of the way what have we got more positively? On the Dave King tune 'Not Even Close To Far Off' certainly there is a tasty, emotive, sounding tenor saxophone solo from Chris Speed as one favourable element. Speed is a player we have long admired and yet who is someone who seems constrained here within the rumbling bass and tough drums architecture of the rock style piece and its relatively simple tune.

The most interesting bit is actually the electric guitar part from Ben Monder who arrives sounding far off and mysterious before the sax line repeats his melody. A slight feeling of anti-climax is overpowering by the end.

The full album entitled The Bad Plus is out at the end of September