Best of Jazz Editors’ Picks Review

Review: Jon Irabagon – Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics

It is fair to say that there are no dull moments on Jon Irabagon’s Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics, a stimulating set that will keep listeners constantly guessing what is going to happen next.

Artist: Jon Irabagon

Album: Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics

© Copyright 2018 – Irabbagast

Reviewed By Scott Yanow
Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics

Jazz Artistry NowJon Irabagon is probably best-known as the saxophonist with the unique band Mostly Other People Do The Killing.

With that band, and often on his own projects, Mr. Irabagon shows both his mastery of avant-garde jazz and his deep knowledge of earlier styles, sometimes to satirical effect.

For the tenth release on his own Irabbagast label (six are by him) and his tenth CD as a leader since 2008 (not counting seven albums as a co-leader), Jon Irabagon plays tenor on six of his compositions. However calling his pieces “compositions” does not really describe the music for each of these performances evolve in unusual ways and some of the pieces are essentially multi-themed suites.

For the project, Mr. Irabagon utilizes an impressive quintet also including pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, drummer Rudy Royston and guest trumpeter Tim Hagans.

While the wacky humor of Mostly Other People Do The Killing is mostly absent, the playfulness, passion and pure craziness of the group is felt at times.

The CD jacket has photos of side show attractions from “freak shows” and carnivals of 120 or so years ago.

One could imagine some of Mr. Irabagon’s music on this project being used as themes to introduce the subjects although the sounds are very much from 2018 rather than 1898.

The opener, “The Demon Barber Of Fleet Week,” starts with Mr. Irabagon’s unaccompanied tenor sounding surprisingly somber for a bit before introducing a rhythmic figure that is used during the remainder of the piece. The music builds up to some ferocious playing by the quartet (Hagans is not on this selection) while utilizing the repetitious rhythm creatively.

“Emotional Physics/The Things” has a different rhythmic pattern stated by Mr. Irabagon while Hagans contributes some wild playing. The ensemble calms down for a stretch before the exuberant free playing returns.

“You Own Your Own” is a driving piece that hints a little at Ornette Coleman. The musicians play off of each other, the rhythms become a little funky in spots, the tempo gradually speeds up, and a piano solo takes place over the furious drum playing of Royston.

“The Bo’Ness Monster” is a menacing strut in which the horn players gradually become quite agitated.

“Pretty Like North Dakota,” the ballad of the set, starts with a mysterious mood stated by pianist Perdomo, Hagans uses a mute during his statement, and a variety of ideas are created by the musicians before floating by. The performance becomes quite passionate by its conclusion. Closing the eccentric set is “Taipei Personality,” another ominous strut that has plenty of eccentric playing along with fine trumpet, piano and tenor solos.

It is fair to say that there are no dull moments on Jon Irabagon’s Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics, a stimulating set that will keep listeners constantly guessing what is going to happen next.

Track Order

  1. The Demon Barber Of Fleet Week
  2. Emotional Physics/The Things
  3. You Own Your Own
  4. The Bo’Ness Monster
  5. Pretty Like North Dakota
  6. Taipei Personality


Jon Irabagon – tenor
Tim Hagans – trumpet
Luis Perdomo – piano
Yasushi Nakamura – bass
Rudy Royston – drums

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Mr. Yanow

The Jazz Artistry Now review of Dr. Quixotic’s Traveling Exotics was written by Scott Yanow.

Mr. Yanow has written 11 books on jazz, over 800 liner notes, and more than 20,000 recording reviews through the years.

His writing has graced virtually all of the top jazz magazines and he is happy to be a new contributor to Jazz Artistry Now.