By Ed Enright | Published May 2018
Saxophonist Jon Irabagon’s 10th album as a leader is a super-charged spectacle of daredevil adventure tempered by a dose of freak-show macabre.
The six Irabagon-penned mini-suites that constitute Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics are intricate creations distinguished by cyclical, interwoven lines, strange meters and intense motific development. Irabagon and his bandmates—pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, drummer Rudy Royston and guest trumpeter Tim Hagans—blow over these exotic, twisted forms with well-developed improvisations that veer toward the abyss of reckless abandon in the name of blessed irreverence and compelling storytelling. It’s an exhilarating program that draws from the realms of post-bop, free improvisation and progressive rock.
There’s a contagious fun factor at work here, manifested in the musicians’ playful interactions (in both composed and improvised passages) and outrageous statements; pushed to the extremes of their abilities, they reveal their brightest colors and demonstrate an open-minded willingness to embrace the unknown wholeheartedly. The delightful, breathtaking madness of Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics is celebrated in the album’s tongue-in-cheek liner notes, which tease the reader with promises of carnival-like monstrosities and the “hidden dangers” that lie within. Enter at your own leisure, and prepare to witness incredible feats of high-wire musicianship.