By Martin Longley | Published October 2022
Saxophonist Jon Irabagon has applied his outsized technique to an array of shifting contexts, whether subverting the pleasures of post-bop as a founding member of Mostly Other People Do the Killing, digging into lacerating noise-rock with his I Don’t Hear Nothin’ But The Blues project, writing for new music ensembles, or dismantling the Charlie Parker songbook in a solo project recorded in the Black Hills National Forest in Falling Rock, South Dakota.
But, over time, it has become clear that Irabagon’s most natural setting is leading a hard-swinging band through corkscrewing, high-velocity themes and simply letting it fly. If a fiery trip through “Bebop” wasn’t obvious enough, there’s no missing the music’s orientation right out of the gate with the blistering “Sundance,” a slaloming theme requiring pinpoint unison lines by the leader, pianist Matt Mitchell and bassist Christ Lightcap, who plays electric bass on all but one piece.
Halfway through, the tempo slows, morphing from a bebop workout into a soul-infused ballad channeling the gospel spirit of Albert Ayler via vintage David Murray. Drummer Dan Weiss collides swing impulses with maniacally difficult patterns with typically deceptive ease, as on “Alliance,” another burner with a knotty, rhythmic scheme at the start that opens up to allow Irabagon to tap his inner Pharoah Sanders. Guest trumpeter Adam O’Farrill and guitarist Miles Okazaki add some timbral contrast on a couple of tunes, with the latter injecting some liming funk grooves on the title track, but the core quartet reveals an easy rapport and pure pedal-to-the-metal spirit.
Rising Sun: Sundance; Alliance; Hoodootoo; Bebop; Mammoth; Rising Sun; Needles. (61:23)
Personnel: Jon Irabagon, tenor sax; Matt Mitchell, piano, Fender Rhodes; Chris Lightcap, electric bass, acoustic bass (4); Dan Weiss, drums; Miles Okazaki, guitar (3, 6); Adam O’Farrill, trumpet (5, 7).
Ordering Info: jonirabagon.bandcamp.com