Several years ago, the saxophonist (he plays tenor, soprano, and sopranino ) formed a quartet with Luis Perdomo (piano), Yasushi Nakamura (bass), and Rudy Royston (drums). Their 2015 Irabbagast recording, "Behind The Sky", featured Tom Harrell (trumpet, flugelhorn) with much of the material composed while Irabagon was mourning the loss of several family members. In the Fall of 2016, the group reassembled to tour South America with trumpeter Tim Hagans in tow. They played in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and then entered Estudio Doctor F and recorded the group's second album, "Dr. Quixotic's Traveling Exotics", a six-song program of Irabagon originals that finds the ensemble often in high gear and always in high spirits. One can certainly hear how much fun the quintet is having as five of the pieces last more than 10 minutes. Yet, there is no fat in this music: what you get are well-drawn compositions, powerful solos, great interactions, and a splendid rhythm section.
More like Monty Python's Flying Circus than Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, "Dr. Quixotic's Traveling Exotics" has musical twists-and-turns that take the eager listener out of the ordinary into a variety of special places. Yes, there is power in this music, the power of being an ensemble, with traveling together, with working onstage and in the studio, the power of music to bring joy to its creators as much as it does to the audience. Jon Irabagon hits new personal heights with this music, creatively and artistically.
For more information, go to jonirabagon.com.
Here's the opening track:
|Photo: Yixiao Guo|
The final two tracks are short but ever so positive. "Think Of Something Beautiful" is an up-tempo romp one expects to break into a series of solos but, instead, leads into the group rendition on the title track. Here. the music has restored power amidst the feeling of thankfulness and joy for the leader's return to playing and being with his musical friends.
Michael Musillami's story has a happy (and healthy) ending. "Life Anthem" takes the listener on quite a journey with compositions that are, arguably, the finest of the guitarist's (nearly) three-decade career. With his long-time rhythm section as well as two new companions, Trio +2 is a formidable ensemble worthy of your attention.
For more information, go to www.michaelmusillami.com.
Here's a live Trio version of "MRI Countdown" from April of this year: