Friday, February 7, 2014

Jon Irabagon It Takes All Kinds JW 2014

Jon Irabagon is the next great tenor saxophonist...
Brent Black /
I realize taste is subjective and arguing tenor players in improvisational music is like trying to settle the age old argument concerning the designated hitter. It Takes All Kinds is an amazingly diverse trio offering from Jon along with the great Barry Altschul on drums and the lyrical Mark Helios on double bass. Jon Irabagon is no longer that rising star as touted by Downbeat, Irabagon has arrived and he announces his presence with authority. A plethora of killer performances with Mostly Other People Do The Killing and Jon Lundbom & Big Five Chord find Jon hitting his stride and raising his game to the next level with It Takes All Kinds. 
Free jazz, hard bop or post bop are abject terms use to pigeonhole the sound of an artist. Jon Irabagon is a harmonic chameleon. From the opening Albert Ayler meets Ivo Perelman mash up of "Wherewithal" to an edgy hard bop influenced "Quintessential Kitten" Irabagon is involved in a blowing session for the ages. Double bassist Mark Helias offers up a delicious lyrical counterpoint and some stellar solo work on tunes such as "Sunrise" while Barry Altschul plays with finesse and a swing that would short circuit the average metronome. A true student of his craft, Jon Irabagon displays riffs on influences while flipping these to fit his own cutting edge voice and lyrical vision for the future of the tenor saxophone.
What Jon Irabagon does to a tenor should be illegal. The tenor saxophone has long been "jazz sexy." Thanks to Jon, It Takes All Kinds is heavy metal post bop. This type of inspired playing is rare. Attempting to over analyze the blatantly obvious is both a waste of time for the critic as well as the listener. Possibly the best trio recording in fifty years.
Be the ball...
Tracks: Wherewithal; Vestiges; Quintessential Kitten; Elusive; Cutting Corners; Unconditional; Sunrise; Pause and Flip.
Personnel: Jon Irabagon: Tenor Saxophone; Mark Helias: Double Bass; Barry Altschul: Drums and Percussion.