Mostly Other People Do the Killing | Mauch Chunk

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Mauch Chunk

by Mostly Other People Do the Killing

Exciting and energetic post-modern Jazz performed by one of the most talked about ensembles in modern music.
Genre: Jazz: Modern Creative Jazz
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Mauch Chunk Is Jim Thorpe (For Henry Threadgill)
5:27 $0.99
2. West Bolivar (For Caetano Veloso)
6:16 $1.25
3. Obelisk (For Dave Holland)
6:40 $1.25
4. Niagra (For Will Connell)
5:58 $1.25
5. Herminie (For Sonny Clark)
4:51 $1.25
6. Townville (For Brieanne Beaujolais)
11:53 $1.25
7. Mehoopany (For Frank Fonseca)
4:49 $1.25
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Over the past twelve years, Moppa Elliott’s Mostly Other People Do the Killing have earned a place at the forefront of jazz and improvised music performing in a style that is at once rooted in the jazz tradition and highly improvised and unstructured. Their initial string of albums explored the intersection between common practice hard-bop style compositions and free improvisation, incorporating a wealth of other influences from pop music to the classical European repertoire. In 2010, bandleader and composer Elliott expanded the group’s framework and began exploring specific eras of jazz resulting in 2011’s Slippery Rock (an investigation of smooth jazz and fusion styles) and 2012’s Red Hot (featuring an expanded lineup recalling the jazz and blues recordings of the late 1920s and early 1930s). 2014 saw the release of Blue, a note-for-note recreation of Miles Davis’ classic album, Kind of Blue. This project, ten years in the making, evoked a wide range of strong responses from both the public and critics and will likely be a part of the discussion of the state of jazz in the 21st century for years to come.

Each of the compositions on this album bears a dedication to an individual who influenced the compositional process in some way. Some of these influences are musical, while others pertain to places in Pennsylvania or specific towns that relate to the dedicatee.

“Mauch Chunk is Jim Thorpe,” dedicated to Henry Threadgill and his composition “Spotted Dick is Pudding,” is a harmonically rich minor-key shuffle with a major-key bridge a whole step lower than the initial theme. Stabinsky’s piano solo is over the minor key section of the form that changes to the major under Irabagon’s saxophone solo and recalls the harmony of “All of Me.” After a return of the initial theme, the tune ends with an improvised section that includes references to composer Conlon Nancarrow and a spontaneous Picardy third. This performance encapsulates the MOPDtK approach to ensemble interplay, balancing “conflict and collaboration” between the members of the quartet.

“West Bolivar,” dedicated to Brazilian musician and activist Caetano Veloso, is a bossa nova with several rhythmic alterations and mixed time signatures. The melody of the first section repeats and develops through several tonal centers, while the secondary theme includes fragments of Veloso’s composition, “Cobra Coral.” During the ending vamp, Stabinsky wryly quotes Elliott’s “Hop Bottom Hop” from the album Shamokin!!!, as well as The William Tell Overture.

“Obelisk,” an odd-metered minor-key composition inspired by the music of Dave Holland, contains some of Stabinsky’s finest recorded solo work. The piano solo begins in the minor key and gradually accelerates, before leading to the B section based on dominant 7th chords. The solo concludes with a transition from Wayne Shorter’s “Juju” to Van McCoy’s “Do the Hustle.” Irabagon’s solo begins in the relative major and the composition ends with an improvised section that incorporates the music of both Philip Glass and Cream.

Saxophonist, educator, and inspiring human being, Will Connell passed away in 2014 and his memory inspired the composition, “Niagra,” named after the club in Alphabet City where he gave Mostly Other People Do the Killing their first gig. The tune is a slow waltz with irregularly phrased melodic sections alternating with simple two-chord vamps. Connell’s alto saxophone was a constant presence every Wednesday night at Niagra where he would curate sets by up-and-coming artists, as well as host a jam session that sent all participants home with the best possible vibes. He is sorely missed.

The great pianist Sonny Clark was born and raised in Herminie, PA and his music, specifically his harmonic tendencies inspired the composition named after his hometown. The form alternates between a vamp in F minor with a “Spanish tinge”, and a blusier form that moves through several key centers. Irabagon and Stabinsky spar throughout the piece, resolving to the only written ending on the album.

The fact that there is a place in Pennsylvania called “Townville” was brought to Elliott’s attention by dancer/activist Brieane Beaujolais. “Townville” is a companion piece to “Biggertown” from 2008’s This Is Our Moosic. Both pieces are three separate tunes, each a major third apart in tonality as a nod to John Coltrane’s harmonic experiments. Whereas “Biggertown” was three separate rhythm changes compositions, “Townville” is three blues heads, each utilizing the same melodic content. In each melody, the same figure occurs in the break on the same pitch, creating a contrasting harmonic color in each of the three keys. Each melody is preceded by a four-measure cue to allow the ensemble to move into and out of each written section from freely improvised sections. The improvised ending catches everyone, including the performers, off-guard.

“Mehoopany,” the obligatory boogaloo, is dedicated to Elliott’s neighbor in Queens, Frank Fonseca, an semi-professional singer in a doo-wop group “The Mandells” in the late 1960s who scored a minor radio hit with a tune called “Lulu Bugaloo” in 1967. The steady rhythm of the tune is punctuated by Shea’s chaotic snare drum work, and after two solos over the form the ensemble explodes into chaos before ending the tune with a live-performance fade-out.



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