Prolific American tenor sax player Jon Irabagon warns that «Anatomical Snuffbox», the third installment of his cataclysmic, end-of-the-world, ecstatic noise ensemble I Don’t Hear Nothin’ but the Blues is not for the faint of heart. And he is completely right. This is the most radical outing in the sax player’s career that already embraced straight-ahead jazz, solo experiments, large-scale song cycle, free jazz trios, and a tribute to Sonny Rollins.
I Don’t Hear Nothin’ but the Blues began as a duo of Irabagon with powerhouse drummer Mike Pride (a self-titled album, Loyal Music, 2009), grew into a trio with the addition of prog-metal guitarist Mick Barr («Appalachian Haze», Irabbagast Record, 2013), and continues where it left off with second guitarist, Ava Mendoza. «Anatomical Snuffbox» was recorded during Irabagon’s residency at John Zorn’s club The Stone in Brooklyn, in April 2019.
«Anatomical Snuffbox» is one, 47-minutes intense and total freak-out from its first second to its last, with no regards for reflection or even a break for taking a breath. This heavy mayhem begins with a furious exchange of motives by Irabagon and Pride, morphing and appearing at will, pyrotechnic guitar attacks of Barr and even more complex, distorted guitar onslaughts of Mendoza. All are channeled into a dense, chaotic, and tumultuous meltdown, that keeps getting more wilder and wilder while radiating its cathartic and cacophony sonic fallout, unapologetically until the dramatic coda when it finally settles on an explosive pulse.
And if you are not convinced yet, the cover art that depicts these four fearless musicians makes it clear: this is not an album for the faint of heart.
Jon Irabagon (ts), Ava Mendoza (g), Mick Barr (g), Mike Pride (dr)