Published Jan 28, 2014Jon Irabagon plays a whole lot of saxophone. With big-bellied tone, kaleidoscopic phrasing, tonguing and dynamic changes, and relentless forward motion, he is in command of his instrument and his music. Recorded live at the Peitz Festival in Germany, his album's eight tracks are full of energy, enthusiasm and fire.
"Vestiges" brims with brittle slap tonguing, multiphonics and sizzling swing, propelled by Barry Altschul's boundlessly creative solo and Mark Helias's bluesy bass part. Irabagon's knowledge of jazz tradition is given full rein in the playful "Quintessential Kitten." His unaccompanied intro contains Coleman Hawkins ornamentation, Don Byas-ish timbral colouration, echoes of Sonny Rollins and moreover, a gutsy historical tour that does not have a dry moment: a tour de force.
Helias lays down a hypnotic line while Altschul gives the Arabic flavoured "Unconditional" tom-tom underpinning and the saxophonist dances gracefully with the rhythms they weave. Irabagon's large intervallic leaps and squonk may not suit traditionalists' tastes, but his burning solos radiate classic jazz brilliance. It's exciting music played by a trio that's clearly having a great time playing it. (Irabagast/Jazzwerkstatt)