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ALBUM REVIEW: "Behind the Sky" 

Jon Irabagon

"Behind the Sky"

Irabbagast Records

In saxophonist Jon Irabagon's brief notes about the inspiration for his excellent new album, "Behind the Sky," he speaks of the grieving process and the variety of emotions that accompany it. You can certainly feel the intense pain in his mournful solo on the ballad "Music Box Song (For When We're Apart)," but there is also an unmistakable sense of resurgence on the album's more exuberant tracks. The common denominator throughout is Irabagon's furiously brilliant style on tenor and soprano sax.

Irabagon has been a rising star on the jazz scene since winning the 2008 Thelonious Monk Saxophone Competition. He's a member of Mostly Other People Do the Killing and several other cutting-edge groups, but he's the leader and composer here. Irabagon is by no means the only riveting soloist on this album. Special guest Tom Harrell is superb on trumpet and flugelhorn on three cuts. And Luis Perdomo is simply wonderful on piano, driving the music in perfect sync with the great rhythm section of Yasushi Nakamura on bass and Rudy Royston on drums.

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