• Bryan Murray
  • Jon Irabagon

Morton Grove native Jon Irabagon, who studied jazz at DePaul University, has become one of the strongest, most flexible, and daring saxophonists at work today. Since he moved to New York in 2001, his playing and reputation have been rising steadily. In recent months he’s appeared on a slew of good records—all of which offer plenty of proof of just how good he’s become.

As usual, Irabagon gets to strut the full diapason of his abilities and ideas in Mostly Other People Do the Killing, the notorious piss-take quartet led by bassist Moppa Elliott that simultaneously celebrates, deconstructs, and mocks the entire history of jazz (the band is rounded out by drummer Kevin Shea and monster trumpeter Peter Evans). In January the group released its fifth studio album, Slippery Rock! (Hot Cup), whose absurd fake liner notes by one Leather Featherweight celebrate what has retroactively become known as smooth jazz. While previous record covers have been meticulous send-ups of classic albums by the likes of Ornette Coleman, Roy Haynes, Art Blakey, and Keith Jarrett, this one references the spirit of the plastic 80s, although it makes MOPDTK look like a new-wave act, not a smooth-jazz group. Still, I have to admit I let out a chuckle when I read: