Review: Jon Irabagon with Mike Pride

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

Sax-percussion duets often nod to the John Coltrane--Rashied Ali free-jazz classic, Interstellar Space. But to find an analogue for this meeting between tenorist Jon Irabagon and drummer Mike Pride, you'd have to look to 2005's OV, a remarkable work of sustained minimalism by the postmetal duo Orthrelm. I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues—like OV, a continuous piece of nearly 50 minutes—seems driven by infernal monomania, as if Irabagon and Pride were simultaneously afflicted by the same nervous tic. It's doggedly extreme, borderline obnoxious and completely riveting.

Separately, Irabagon and Pride are well known as eccentric virtuosos. The saxist, winner of 2008's Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, performs in the acclaimed bebop-in-a-blender quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing; Pride has backed brainy jazz legend Anthony Braxton as well as political punks Millions of Dead Cops. Those influences and countless others speed by here, but the flow of ideas is so continuous that the album never feels like pastiche.

Nor, shockingly, does it seem bloated. At the outset, Irabagon and Pride set forth a handful of motifs—an ambling blues phrase, a braying sax eruption, pounding thrash-metal beats—which they proceed to dissect and mull exhaustively. The result is an ultrararity in experimental music: a lengthy improv excursion that's as focused and indelible as a great pop song.

Jon Irabagon and Mike Pride play Local 269 Sun 5 and Cornelia Street Caf Mon 6.

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I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues (Loyal Label)