Saxman Jon Irabagon Goes Metal On Your Ass, Avant Style
Undoubtedly, Volume 2: Appalachian Haze is an in-your-face improv colossus and to call it epic -- it's one continuous, bloodthirsty track clocking in at an improbable 48 minutes -- would be an understatement. While the hip masses are compiling their ridiculous best of 2012 lists in early December, here now comes along Irabagon, Pride and Barr bringing arguably the ultimate melt of fire-breathing skronk-fest brawling, six-string finger-fucking virtuosity, ubiquitous percussive hooks and jabs and gale-force horn swagger that may only be rivaled by another recent massive face-rip record Barr appears on, BARR SHEA DAHL (ugEXPLODE).
Alas, for Iragabon, like its Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues predecessor, the new Volume 2: Appalachian Haze was no easy sell. Hence, Irabaggast Records was hatched. "I couldn't get anyone to put out the first one, barely, and this one (with Mike and Mick) is even way more extreme," Irabagon says. "So it seemed like it was going to be a fruitless labor to try to send it out to a lot of labels and just have it denied. I was just ready to get the kind of comments, emails or letters back [saying] 'You know this is one fifty-minute track, right? You know I can't market this and I can't sell it?' But Mike and Mick and I believed in the recording so much so I was just like "You know what? This needs to come out one way or another. So, I just decided that it was time to see what would happen if I started my own label."
Pride, writing via email, is psyched about the collaboration. The versatile Brooklyn drummer helms jazz maestros From Bacteria to Boys, anchors experimental noisemakers The Spanish Donkey (with guitarist Joe Morris and keysmaster Jamie Saft) and also owns a deep background in punk and hardcore, has known Barr for fifteen years but playing together never came to fruition. Until now. "We had always talked about doing a project together and it never happened. We couldn't even get a jam together. But we have shared many bills together in that time. I have always been a fan of Mick's and I think Mick has always enjoyed my work. So, when I offered Mick the chance to play with Jon I at The Stone last year, he happily jumped in and knocked it out of the park. Now Mick and I are also working on a really strange duo project for tarr (an Aberganian lute) and percussion."
As for the two records, Pride offers his take on its contrasting nuances. "I think the first record sounds all over the place--which is fine because that was one of the many goals. The new record sounds much more settled and consistent, sonically. Where the first record seemed uneasy to me, the new record seems like one long ecstatic meditation."
Barr, also checking in via email, is somewhat enthused when asked about Irabagon's "metal" pedigree. "Heh. He's not much of a 'metal dude,'" Barr writes.
"He's very open minded and eager to explore that world. But I definitely wouldn't want to pigeonhole him as a "jazz guy" either. That's just rude."
While Irabagon prepares for his Irabbagast Festival at Cornelia Street Café with label-launching performances by I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues, Outright! and his trio with Altschul and bassist Mark Helias, he's a bit bummed. Irabagon will be in his native Chicago when tech-metal magicians Behold The Arctopus play their record release show on December 15th at Saint Vitus. But he will definitely be in attendance at Dysrhythmia's show at the Greenpoint metal haunt on January 5th. "I love it, man," Irabagon says of Dysrhythmia. "I wish that there was a space for saxophone in some of those types of bands because I'd love to play in those things."
Jon Irabagon's Irabbagast Records Festival takes places at Cornelia Street Café. On Thursday, Irabagon plays with Barry Altschul and Mark Helias at 9pm and I Don't Hear Nothin' But The Blues plays at 1030pm; $10 cover plus $10 minimum.
On Friday, Irabagon's Outright! plays two sets at 9pm and 1030pm; $10 cover plus $10 minimum