Jon Irabagon’s Outright!

Released October 1, 2012

DownBeat Five-Star Review




This record is the follow-up to Jon’s highly acclaimed 2007 album “Outright!”, and features a new cast of characters and guests. However, it retains the wide arch of influences (as well as the group improvisation mindset) that the first record captured so well. This time around, the musical inspiration comes from influences as disparate as The Brecker Brothers, Mongo Santamaria, Dave Douglas, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, ’50s R&B, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane (and Paul Desmond, at the same time!!!). All of these styles are wrapped up together in strong, focused group improvisation, featuring some of New York City’s most exciting and traveled improvisors– Ralph Alessi, Jacob Sacks, John Hebert and Tom Rainey, along with special guest appearances by Mike Pride, Eivind Opsvik, Glenn Alexander, Chris Cash, and the 30 person Outright! Jazz Orchestra.
One of two flagship releases for his new Irabbagast Records label, this edition of Outright! demonstrates Jon’s personal growth and progress in the 5 years since his initial release, years that saw him win the Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition as well as the Downbeat Magazine Rising Star Alto Saxophone Award, as well as get nominated for Up-and-Coming Artist of the Year and Tenor Saxophonist of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association. Jon also was named one of New York City’s Jazz Icons by Time Out Magazine in 2011.

Track Listing:

1. Camp Douglas (Jon Irabagon) 1:11

2. Charles Barkley (Jon Irabagon) 10:34

3. Lola Pastillas (Jon Irabagon) 8:33

4. Camp Douglas, Pt. 2 (Jon Irabagon) 1:55

5. Silent Smile (Urban Love Song) (Jon Irabagon) 9:56

6. Kremzeek! (Jon Irabagon) 7:30

7. Mourning In America (Jon Irabagon) 5:58

8. Camp Douglas, Pt. 3 (Jon Irabagon) 1:59

9. Take Five (Paul Desmond) 9:58

10. Parker Posey (Jon Irabagon) 8:05


Jon Irabagon: tenor saxophone
Ralph Alessi: trumpet
Jacob Sacks: piano, organ, electric harpsichord, clavinet, fender rhodes
John Hebert: acoustic bass, electric bass
Tom Rainey: drums
Glenn Alexander: guitar
Chris Cash: programming
Eivind Opsvik: bass
Mike Pride: auxiliary percussion

The Outright! Jazz Orchestra: Jennifer Beattie, voice; Fung Chern Hwei, violin; Leigh Stuart, cello; Kurt Knuffke, cornet; Jacob Garchik, slide trumpet; Kevin Neal, Rick Parker, John Yao, trombone; Alejandro Aviles, flute; Rob Wilkerson, alto saxophone; Ingrid Laubrock, Joe Natale, Jake Saslow, .Grant Steinhauer, tenor saxophone; Jean-Brice Godet, Josh Sinton, bass clarinet; Mark Small, accordion; Nathan Kuruna, theremin; Matt Grason, berimbau; Richie Miletic, 5-string banjo; Jesse Lewis, acoustic guitar; Terence McManus, electric guitar; Shawn Conley, Moppa Elliott, Eivind Opsvik, Marcos Varela, acoustic bass; Peter Brendler, electric bass; Sam Kulik, assorted percussion and found objects (5)

Recorded May 19, 2012, at Sear Sound Studios, New York City

Produced by Jon Irabagon


Unhinged indeed, Jon Irabagon is a nut, but a prolifically talented one. Avoid fright at over-the-top egocentric artwork, festooned with goofy images of Irabagon’s kingpin cane getting fondled in the back of a limo while his tenor sups cognac. Or for that matter, the somewhat pretentious dedication to protean German painter Gerhard Richter. Though Richter’s work bespeaks a more placid persona, his disregard for stylistic boundaries has resonance with Irabagon’s versatility, a hallmark of the saxophonist’s tenure in outrageous jumpcut quartet Mostly Other People Do The Killing. The 28 members of his Outright Jazz Orchestra fade in on “Silent Smile (Urban Love Song)” after a lovely bass intro from John Hébert. The mellow vibe jars with the hip-hop sexism of the CD art until the fabulously tart atonal mélange gathers intensity, conjuring the neon mosaic of Times Square. The massed orchestra cut out to frame not-so-mock cadenzas from the leader’s tenor. Irabagon feigns tastelessness and disregard for niceties, dabbling with extended techniques, but covertly he’s a class act. The core group of Unhinged is top drawer with Ralph Alessi, Tom Rainey, Hébert and Jacob Sacks, not a dissolute gangsta among them. Guest guitarist Glenn Alexander, the “shredder” referred to in notes, performs his rock fusion cameo on “Kremzeek,” with Sacks on electric harpsichord, then Rhodes. The sincere “Mourning In America” begins with a piquant, strangulated reveille from Alessi, tidal low notes, key pops and rippling runs from the leader. Then it’s programming anarchy again from Chris Cash on “Camp Douglas 3.” “Take Five” forgoes the cheese you expect. Entirely unrecognizable from Paul Desmond’s groove, it conveys the shimmering gravitas of John Coltrane’s “Alabama.”

Michael Jackson (DownBeat)