This is the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2009's sax/drum duo, "I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues" featuring Mike Pride and Jon Irabagon. The album made several Top 10 Jazz CDs of 2009 lists, and also won the Village Voice award for Best Album Artwork.
"I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 2: Appalachian Haze" ups the ante in every possible way, not only in the intense, funny but badass artwork, but also in a new very important element-- the addition of guitar gunslinger and shredder Mick Barr.
The story goes like this. Hank Shteamer, writing for Time Out New York, called the first "I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues" album one of his favorites of the year, giving both the record and the CD release show his top rating. In his album review, Shteamer rejects other critics' talk about this record reminding them of another drum/sax duo record, John Coltrane and Rashied Ali's "Interstellar Space." Instead, Shteamer says, this record most reminded him of Orthrelm's non-stop assault album "OV."
Irabagon had never heard the record before, so immediately bought it... and fell in love with it. He knew immediately that he had to play with Mick Barr as soon as possible and as much as possible. At the time, Jon had recently finished recording his non-stop manifesto "Foxy" with bassist Peter Brendler and drumming legend Barry Altschul, and the band was to tour the record in Europe that summer. The programming geniuses at the Moers Festival in Germany (one of Jon's favorite festivals to play), realized that a back-to-back combination of non-stop groups-- first Jon's Foxy Trio, then Orthrelm, would blow the minds of the audience. So in May 2011, after the Foxy Trio then Orthrelm performed, Jon was able to meet Mick and plans were made to play.
That autumn, Jon and Mike Pride's duo invited Mick Barr to join them for a set at The Stone, the venue opened by John Zorn for free and experimental music. The set was immediately cohesive, exciting for all involved and challenging, and the rest is history. This album is the first document of the newly-expanded trio, continuing the genre-blending motivic development found in the first album, but adding to it, both in complexity and in speed. The 49 minute track was all done in one take, with no preconceived notion on how it should go. Although a second take was planned, the magic and immediacy all three members felt on this initial take were enough to forego the alternate take.
"I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 2: Appalachian Haze" joins "Outright! Unhinged" as the initial released for Irabagon's new Irabbagast Records label, which he started in November 2012 to help release and document his own new, challenging music, both improvised and composed. With the newly-found freedom that running one's own label brings, Jon's original ideas and unapologetic merging of musical styles and philosophies have found a new home.