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New York's brilliant band takes on Miles Davis' classic "Kind of Blue" in a note-for-note recreation, a head-scratching anomaly that is as close to performing a perfect replica as is imaginable.

Mostly Other People Do The Killing

Mostly Other People Do The Killing: Blue (Hot Cup Records)

Label: Hot Cup Records    
Released in: USA    

"Miles Davis drew millions into modern jazz. We can follow his career from Charlie Parker style bop through Cool Jazz, from his fiery sides with Coltrane and Cannonball to the 60s freer and more conceptual work with Shorter, Hancock, Carter & Williams, ultimately going electric and (arguably) spawning jazz-rock fusion. Many wouldn't be the listeners they are without him, as he led generations to understand the layers of jazz evolution while sweeping up rock fans into a music that appealed to both sides. Unquestionably, he was a remarkable artist.

Perhaps Miles' most undeniable album is Kind of Blue. A culmination of modal concepts that bring freedom to its performers, it's both a beautifully introspective and incredibly complex record with unhurried pacing and innovative soloing. Books have been written about it. Countless covers have been made of the album's five tracks. It is a treasured item in many a jazz fan's collection, and the US Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry. What more could you want from this album?

According to the New York band Mostly Other People Do the Killing, a complete recreation. Note for note. Inflection for inflection. Leading to the question:


MOPDTK's bandleader Moppa Elliot once wrote:

"I would rather make music that uses jazz's identity crisis against it, piling as many nonsensical musical associations together as possible to create music that is aware of its own inconsistencies, ironies, and contradictions and likes it that way. Standing on the shoulders of giants makes it easier to kick them in the teeth."

The members of MOPDTK thrive in this crisis and are a superb example of contemporary players well educated in the history of jazz and improvised music. Individually, they have released albums of straight ahead, free, and experimental improvised forms. MOPDTK's albums are brilliant examples of technically excellent playing, creating intensely enjoyable and interesting music both for the listener and for the players themselves. They have innovated and poked a stick in the eye of jazz while borrowing from the past masters.

So one asks again, why release a note-for-note copy of a classic album when you can create something new? Why do it, knowing that it might infuriate those who worship this record as an untouchable masterpiece?

First and foremost, MOPDTK achieves their goal: listening to the album, it's difficult not to think that it's Miles'. The subtleties of the original performance are captured beautifully, and there's no doubt that great care was put into the reconstruction, level of accuracy in transcription, study, and the execution is impressive. If you know Kind of Blue obsessively well, you'll notice sonic transgressions, slight details that tip you off; it's like a great forgery that hangs in a gallery for decades before being found out.

For all its perfection, Blue brings up a contradiction: Miles Davis recorded his version in two sessions with hardly any preparation or rehearsal. Elliott says that three years went into the group's recreation, and that the first work on the album started almost 10 years ago. What other "jazz" record has that much preparation time?

Is what MOPDTK recorded here heretical in its own way? It's essentially a transcription, something typically used for educational purposes, bringing a player into contact with the thought process and execution of a master long after their improvisation is complete. It's a valuable study, helping players absorb and reflect the history of past jazz performers. But typically it's a means to an end, not intended for performance in a "real" jazz setting. Playing a transcribed solo sounds like jazz, but in practice it's more like a composed piece. Even Miles was called into question for this on his 1969 In a Silent Way, in part because Teo Macero edited the album to drop the same 6 minutes of music in the front and end of the first track. Modern listeners don't have a problem with the concept, but for its day many considered it sacrilege.

Or is this just a big joke for MOPDTK, straight-jacketing a form intended for freedom and variation to piss off jazz critics? This is a brilliantly executed album by an extraordinary band, despite the process or the music's origination. Did they want to kick the giants in the teeth? If so they might have turned the tables on Miles, but they didn't: this is homage, so lovingly created that it's clear that this record is in their hearts.

In the end, the album will make those familiar with the original listen, and listen closely. Perhaps all improvised music should be subject to the same level of scrutiny. Whatever your relationship to this or the original, Blue is an anomaly in jazz history that asks more questions about what jazz really is than it answers. My guess is, for MOPDTK, that's all the fun."-Phil Zampino, The Squid's Ear

"Peter Evans is a trumpet player, and improvisor/composer based in New York City since 2003. Evans is part of a broad, hybridized scene of musical experimentation and his work cuts across a wide range of modern musical practices and traditions. Peter is committed to the simultaneously self-determining and collaborative nature of musical improvisation as a compositional tool, and works with an ever-expanding group of musicians and composers in the creation of new music. His primary groups as a leader are the Peter Evans Quintet and the Zebulon trio. In addition, Evans has been performing and recording solo trumpet music since 2002 and is widely recognized as a leading voice in the field, having released several recordings over the past decade. He is a member of the cooperative groups Pulverize the Sound (with Mike Pride and Tim Dahl) and Rocket Science (with Evan Parker, Craig Taborn and Sam Pluta) and is constantly experimenting and forming new configurations with like minded players. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Yarn/Wire, the Donaueschingen Musiktage Festival, the Jerome Foundation's Emerging Artist Program, and the Doris Duke Foundation for the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival. Evans has presented and/or performed his works at major festivals worldwide and tours his own groups extensively. He has worked with some of the leading figures in new music: John Zorn, Kassa Overall, Jim Black, Weasel Walter, Levy Lorenzo, Nate Wooley, Steve Schick, Mary Halvorson, Joe McPhee, George Lewis, and performs with both ICE and the Wet Ink Ensemble. He has been releasing recordings on his own label, More is More, since 2011."

-Peter Evans Website (

"The winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition, Irabagon has since topped both the Rising Star Alto Saxophone and the Rising Star Tenor Saxophone categories in the DownBeat Magazine Critics' Poll and been named one of Time Out New York's 25 New York City Jazz Icons. Jon was also named 2012 Musician of the Year in The New York City Jazz Record and is an integral member of such high-profile ensembles as the Mary Halvorson Quintet, the Dave Douglas Quintet and Barry Altschul's 3Dom Factor, as well as an established bandleader in his own right.

For Perpetual Motion, a project of Moondog arrangements, Jon (along with French saxophonist/clarinetist/composer Sylvain Rifflet) has been awarded a French-American Cultural Exchange grant from the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, with generous funding from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Institut Français, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, and Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs de Musique ("SACEM"). In addition, Jon has received a 2012 Mabuhay Award by the National Association of Filipino-Americans and a 2014 Philippine Presidential Award.

Jon's own record label, Irabbagast Records, has currently released five of his efforts, including I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 2: Appalachian Haze (with Mike Pride and Mick Barr), Outright! Unhinged (with Ralph Alessi, Jacob Sacks, John Hebert and Tom Rainey) and It Takes All Kinds (featuring Mark Helias and Barry Altschul), and most recently, the dual release of Behind the Sky (featuring Tom Harrell, Luis Perdomo, Yasushi Nakamura and Rudy Royston) as well as Jon's first solo saxophone recording, Inaction is an Action."

-Jon Irabagon Website (

"Ron Stabinsky recently released his debut album, Free for One, the culmination of more than a decade of evolving his improvised solo language. In addition to continuing to pursue his ongoing interest in solo piano improvisation, he enjoys working on music in a stylistically diverse array of situations throughout the United States and Europe with many other musicians and ensembles, including free-improvising saxophonist Jack Wright, bass trombone virtuoso David Taylor, Meat Puppets bassist Cris Kirkwood, and NEA Jazz Master David Liebman. Recent festival appearances include Newport Jazz Festival, North Sea Jazz Festival (Netherlands), Moers Festival (Germany), Jazzfestival Saalfelden (Austria), Outreach Festival (Austria), and Jazz and More Festival Sibiu (Romania). He is currently a regular member of the band Mostly Other People Do the Killing, the new music ensemble Relâche, the Charles Evans Quartet, and the Peter Evans Quintet."

-Ron Stabinsky 3/20/2017

"Kevin Shea is valued as being a vital and original artist in the contemporary music scene. Shea's originality is manifested not only by his personal approach to his instrument, but also throughout his constant search for new musical horizons unifying all the bands he has been involved in despite the parameters set for musicians by genre definition, or by historical icons.

The plurality of rigorous artistic aspirations and creative engagement that distinguish the discography of Kevin Shea are not the product of chance or merely taking advantage of opportunities -- but the result of labor, strong convictions, and a strong conceptual support -- a deliberate search for transitional territories away from the dogmas of boring and unnecessary conventions.

Shea's artistic interests are rooted in reevaluating what a band/music, musician/performer, artist and audience can and should be. Splitting the difference between passion and song, Shea plays multi-dimensional utopian sound in which opposing musical forces integrate to form a new sustainable recipe for sound and social implication. Remaining devoted to his belief that the application of sonic diversity is paramount to the appreciation of human diversity, Shea's ultimate goal has been to wed disparate ideologies through proficiency, controversy, inquiry, and compassion -- an approach perpetuating audiences, listeners, and sometimes fellow band members, to face, question, define, and attempt to defend their own level of tolerance and compassion head-on, no-holds-barred.

Through this carefully planned direct method in the round, Shea's sonic investigations emphatically traverse the mobius strip highway of refurbished canticles, perpetually climaxing between Sadean semelparity and Platonic resurrection. At the heart of Shea's dialectical core, unabashed artifacts of rhythmic iconoclasm conjoin with anthemic melody gestures and modern memory loss to create a vital force that gives us bittersweet contemplation and empathy.

As a youth, Shea moved throughout the States many times, transforming any of his formal expectations into a joyous foundation of constant flux. He learned that intuition and customs had to be constantly re-evaluated and negotiated rather than held as sacred. This process of questioning is central to Shea's music. To him, sound is a result of a broader process rather than formulas tied to notions of predictable emotional response. Shea sees sound and music, not as a prize, but a simple aspect of banal daily life.

Kevin Shea has over 25 years of experience as a professional drummer, composer and performer. He has recorded on over 120 albums in a mish-mash of contexts and has performed in over 40 countries. His training started in public elementary school and continued steadily through his college years at Berklee College of Music."

-Kevin Shea website (

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Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
NY Downtown & Jazz/Improv
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
Quintet Recordings
Peter Evans

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Price: $13.95
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Shipping Weight: 3.00 units

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Product Information:

UPC: 888295109338

Label: Hot Cup Records
Catalog ID: Hot Cup 141
Squidco Product Code: 19577

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2014
Country: USA
Packaging: Digipack
Recorded at Oktaven Audio in New York City, New York, by Ryan Streber.


Peter Evans-trumpet

Jon Irabagon-alto saxophone, tenor saxophone

Ron Stabinsky-piano

Mppa Elliot-bass

Kevin Shea-drums

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Track Listing:

1. So What 9:21

2. Freddie Freeloader 9:44

3. Blue In Green 5:35

4. All Blues 11:38

5. Flamenco Sketches 9:26

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