Mostly Other People Do the Killing
This is Our Moosic
The packaging of This is Our Moosic could hardly be more referential. The jacket’s design and photos specifically recall the Ornette Coleman Quartet’s epochal 1960 release This is Our Music, and in his liner notes, Moppa Elliott, double bassist for Mostly Other People Do the Killing, waxes eloquent about Coleman, whom he sees as a major inspiration for the combo.
Such sentiments, though laudable, might well have resulted in the dreariest sort of salute – the overly sincere kind. But don’t worry: Rather than delivering too-faithful covers of Coleman classics or constructing quasi-originals based explicitly on the master’s blueprints, MOPDTK uses his stylistic innovations as a jumping-off point for performances that are at once lively, witty and distinctive.
Elliott, trumpeter Peter Evans, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and drummer Kevin Shea hardly hide their sense of humor. For reasons that aren’t fully explained, several songs on Moosic refer to towns in Pennsylvania. (In fact, Moosic, Pennsylvania, sits just six miles south of Scranton.) The group renders a cover of Billy Joel’s “Allentown” in surprisingly straightforward manner – at least prior to the section featuring repeated sax squeals meant to suggest a factory whistle. “Drainlick” moves from a brightly harmolodic introduction through a varied and impulsive middle section before coming full circle. That’s followed by the vibrant promenade “Two Boot Jacks,” the unruly post-bop of “Fagundus” and “The Bats in Belfry,” which somehow manages to quote from both Debussy and Danny Elfman’s Batman theme.
Some of these offerings sound more Colemanesque than others – but that’s a good thing. Instead of simply connecting someone else’s dots, the members of Mostly Other People Do the Killing come up with entertaining and exciting patterns of their own.
- Michael Roberts