Monday, October 26, 2009

Concord announces "The Observer"

Concord Jazz is proud to announce the release of The Observer, saxophonist and composer Jon Irabagon's newest recording as a leader. Winning the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition has afforded Irabagon the opportunity to assemble a dream-team of musicians, including the stellar rhythm section of pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis. This combo of familiar players is augmented by extraordinary trumpeter Nicholas Payton on two tracks, while pianist Bertha Hope provides gorgeous accompaniment to one of her late husband, Elmo Hope's compositions. Along with veteran producer Don Sickler and engineering wizard Rudy Van Gelder, Irabagon and company have crafted a statement of power and beauty replete with twists and turns, a diverse but cohesive collection sure to please jazz aficionados and new fans alike. Irabagon is no stranger to the recording studio, and his musical horizons are broad. His first album as leader, Outright!, was released last year by Innova; other projects include a duo of free improvisation with drummer Mike Pride called I Don't Hear Nothin' But the Blues and his long-time tenure with the post-bop rebels Mostly Other People Do the Killing, whose take on Billy Joel's “Allentown” is only partially tongue-in-cheek. “I'm a child of the 1980s,” laughs Irabagon. “I grew up absorbing all kinds of music, from easy-listening to country, and pop on the radio; I just took it all in.” The Illinois native of Filipino descent began on piano, then played saxophone in middle school and high school band, but only as he prepared to enter DePaul University did he begin a serious study of jazz. “I'd always been interested in the act of performing music, but I developed a real and gradually deepening curiosity about what makes it tick, the elements involved in crafting a successful composition.” He also became interested in the mechanics of soloing, immersing himself in the joyful intrigue of soloists like Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt and Cannonball Adderley, beginning to crystallize his precise and uniquely swinging approach to the alto saxophone.