Disasters, Vol. 1

“Centralia”

(Hot Cup)

As a quartet that expanded to a quintet with the addition of a second horn, Mostly Other People Do the Killing generated a buzz in the early 2000s with its attention-grabbing moniker and daringly original music. The band’s reputation spread with recordings that simultaneously spoofed and honored classic jazz album covers, and with its stubborn adherence to name songs after towns in bassist and composer Moppa Elliott’s native Pennsylvania. While the personnel has been pared down to a trio — Elliott, pianist Ron Stabinsky and drummer Kevin Shea — the group’s commitment to crafting quirky, often bitingly humorous music continues unabated on its latest release Disasters Vol. 1 (Hot Cup). As does its obeisance to Pennsylvania, although this time, Elliott curated a list of towns where both natural and manmade disasters have occurred, e.g., “Three Mile Island” and “Johnstown,” where a nuclear reactor accident and repeated devastation from flooding, respectively, have immortalized those locales. But Disasters is far from a gloomy listen. For example, MOPDtk engage in a little too gleeful (almost manic) blues-infused breakdown on “Centralia,” included here, which imagines a happy exodus from the town where noxious fumes from a raging mine fire bedevil residents as they seep to the surface. Shea keeps pace — and converses noisily — with Stabinsky’s pounding piano, his aggressive sticking and Elliott’s unrelenting bass lines ratcheting up the tension. An industrial-sounding coda, provided by Shea on drums and electronics, ends the tune on a dystopian note. Despite its theme, the music contained within Disasters is great fun, in a kind of dance band on the Titanic sort of way.

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The Authoritative Voice in Jazz

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