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Moppa Elliott Jazz History Scrambled, with Love and Respect


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Moppa Elliott
Theres a bustling, ostentatious impiety in the music of Mostly Other People Do the Killing. Led by the bassist Moppa Elliott, its a jazz quartet with a diligent grasp of history but an anarchic take on convention.

At Zebulon in Brooklyn late on Thursday night, the group riffled through jazz idioms with hammy geniality, like an impressionist flaunting celebrity voices. The unruliness didnt remotely make it a mess.

Mr. Elliott and his band mates the trumpeter Peter Evans, the saxophonist Jon Irabagon and the drummer Kevin Shea share an attraction to jazzs subterranean legacy, and to a strain of cohesion epitomized by the Ornette Coleman Quartet. This Is Our Moosic (Hot Cup), released last year, parodies the title and cover design of Mr. Colemans 1960 album This Is Our Music. (Moosic is a town in Pennsylvania, not far from Scranton, Mr. Elliotts hometown.) And beyond the prankish exterior lies an earnest evocation, along with one of the more feverishly exuberant jazz albums in recent memory.

As was the case with Mr. Colemans band, which featured the trumpeter Don Cherry, the potency of Mostly Other People Do the Killing partly hinges on frontline interplay.

Mr. Evans and Mr. Irabagon fit that bill mightily, with a crackling and brightly combative communion. But each also had plenty of space to claim as his own, and that was where the most dynamic playing happened.

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