By Michael J. West
Man, Jon Irabagon can really, really blow. Since winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone composition in 2008, the alto and tenor player has taken seemingly every opportunity to show what he can do. And he can do it all. He's a spectacular and precise sideman, working with trumpeter Dave Douglas and Mary Halvorsonin their powerful but incredibly different ensembles. He's also a member of the quirky, somewhat tongue-in-cheek band Mostly Other People Do the Killing, which, for all its sense of fun, also mines a very intelligent and unusual vein of composition. And under his own power, Irabagon has done projects of lyrical bebop and postbop, as well as charging, abrasive avant-garde contexts. But his sound, favoring short notes grouped into long phrases, is rather daredevil in all of these circumstances. So it'll be a blast to see Irabagon as a featured soloist tonight with theBohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra, the BCJO's contribution to the pre-DCJF festivities. You can see the BCJO again during the festival proper—they're performing on Sunday at Dumbarton House in Georgetown—but there's something to be said for seeing them in their natural habitat.
The shows start at 8 and 10 p.m. tonight at Bohemian Caverns, 2001 Eleventh Street NW. $15.