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Monday, February 15 // 8:00 PM

Ars Nova Workshop Presents Mostly Other People Do The Killing

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Jon Irabagon, saxophone
Ron Stabinsky, piano
Moppa Elliott, bass
Kevin Shea, drums

Self-described “terrorist bebop” quartet Mostly Other People Do The Killing swing—post-modernly and often ferociously—through Philadelphia in support of its 2015 release, Mauch Chunk.

MOPDTK’s M.O. has been jazz as cultural critique—or trolling, depending on whom you ask—ever since Oberlin-schooled Moppa Elliott founded the quartet in 2003. Elliott envisioned MOPDTK as a reverent but defiant “kill yr idols” response to his conservatory jazz education and the increasingly museum-ified cultural context in which jazz resides. Over the course of nine albums, MOPDTK have poked and prodded jazz sacred cows (2014’s note-for-note reproduction of Kind of Blue) and black sheep alike (2013’s smooth jazz send-up,Slippery Rock) to challenge audiences to reevaluate the social and sonic implications of the genre.

As one could imagine, the band has been met with both ire—read this compelling op-ed by Philadelphia saxophonist Keir Neuringer—and enthusiasm from the jazz cognoscenti. Nate Chinen writes for JazzTimes: “Whatever your gut feeling about their act—those deadpan nods to iconic album covers, that gleefully curdled air of lunatics running the asylum—it was always clear that they had a point to make about received wisdom in jazz culture. It was also apparent that they backed up their bluster with a hardcore musical command.”

Elliott is joined by a world-class wrecking crew of New York musicians casting their own unique sideways glances at the jazz canon. Whether Jon Irabagon is blowing sheets of sound with I Don’t Hear Nothin’ But the Blues—his blistering trio with drummer Mike Pride and guitarist Mick Barr—or making more lyrical contributions to the Dave Douglas Quintet, his style is marked by an effortless ability to dismantle and rebuild the inner-workings of whatever musical material he’s tasked with. Peter Margasak writes of the 2008 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition winner: “Not many saxophonists of the current generation impart curiosity, energy, and pure joy like Irabagon, a prolific and imaginative reedist who seems to overflow with music.”

Kevin Shea is a true original. His highly considered approach to the drum set is rooted in virtuosic technique, deliberate rawness, and obsessive inquiry. The global experimental community first took notice of Shea back in 1997 with cult free-rock trio Storm & Stress, alongside Battles/Don Caballero’s Ian Williams. Since then, Shea has maintained a relentlessly polarizing presence with longstanding duos Talibam (with Matt Mottel), People (with Mary Halvorson), and Puttin’ On The Ritz (with BJ Rubin), as well as countless cameos. Telegraph Harps writes, “Kevin Shea’s drums are filled with joyous diablerie…he simultaneously disrupts and reinforces the ensemble/song until all that remains is the avant-garde concept of world peace.”

Pianist Ron Stabinsky, who took part in MODPTK’s expanded septet for their 2012 release Red Hot, replaces trumpeter Peter Evans in the core quartet.


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Wednesday, March 23 // 8:00 PM

Ars Nova Workshop Presents The Necks

Purchase tickets at Ars Nova Workshop

Chris Abrahams, piano
Lloyd Swanton, bass
Tony Buck, drums

Ars Nova Workshop is honored to present legendary Australian trio The Necks in a very rare Philadelphia appearance.

The Los Angeles Times writes, “A magic act masquerading as a piano trio, this Australian group delivers long-form improvisations that shift with such patient beauty that it casts a bit of a trance.”

The Necks convened in the mid-80s as a joint endeavor between three first-class improvisers from the Sydney scene—pianist Chris Abrahams, drummer Tony Buck, and bassist Lloyd Swanton. The project’s methodology could be compared to that of op artists like Bridget Riley or Richard Anuszkiewicz, whose paintings arrange static shapes and contours into illusory patterns that seem to defy the laws of physics. Over the course of eighteen albums, the Necks’ glacial meditations on deceptively simple musical themes reveal more on closer inspection.

The Guardian writes, "Like seeing a world in a grain of sand, The Necks permit us to hear a whole new world of music in a sliver of sound.”

Chris Abrahams (B. 1961, Sydney) made a name for himself in Australia as part of Mark Simmonds’ Freeboppers in the 80s and as a close collaborator of Melanie Oxley’s in the 90s. Abrahams can currently be found in close playing partnerships with Australian composer Anthony Pateras, German percussionist Burkhard Beins, and Italian laptop composer/linguistic deconstructionist Alessandro Bosetti.

Apart from the Necks, Lloyd Swanton (B. 1960) is best known in Australia as the leader of the long running, hard-flowing collective the Catholics, which has received multiple ARIA Award nominations (Australian Grammys). For fourteen years, Lloyd Swanton hosted Mixed Marriage, a popular program on Eastside Radio in Sydney that examined cross-sections of jazz and other musical styles.

Tony Buck (B. 1962, Sydney) is regarded as one of Australia's most creative and adventurous exports, having been involved in a diverse array of projects including Japanese trio PERIL with Otomo Yoshihide and Kato Hideki. Tony has played, toured or recorded with, among others, John Zorn, Tom Cora, Phil Minton, The EX, Peter Brotzmann, Hans Reichel, The Little Red Spiders, Clifford Jordan, Kletka Red, Han Bennink, Shelley Hirsch, Wayne Horvitz, and Ground Zero.


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