Because the band isn’t supposed to be goofy, name aside. (In fact, the name comes from Leon Theremin’s alleged, not-so-funny quote about Joseph Stalin.) What I did focus on was the band being a mesh of influences tracing through the history of jazz, especially its swingy and brassy (figuratively) tendencies, which seems closer to MOPDTK’s real intent.
I feel kind of good about that while reading the lengthy interview recently published on All About Jazz, where the four MOPTDK members take writer Troy Collins to task for some of the misconceptions about them. I’d shared many of those misconceptions, including the idea that the band is always trying to be funny, so it was a very educational read, a good viewpoint on the band’s perspective.
That interview was part of a publicity meteor shower that spattered across the Web about two weeks ago in advance of Slippery Rock, the band’s sixth album and their most awesome album cover to date. (I didn’t say they never try to be funny.) It’s the first time in a while that the cover artwork isn’t based on a specific classic album, which made me glad when I found out. As much as I disparage smooth jazz, it bothered me to think there was some seminal smooth-jazz album whose cover I didn’t recognize. Call it jazz ego.
Apparently, smooth jazz really is the album’s sire, or at least its great-uncle. Moppa Elliott, the bassist and songwriter, started by writing tunes for electric bass and keyboards. Those got jettisoned and the tunes slightly reworked to fit MOPDTK’s normal front line of sax and trumpet.
Getting back to the marketing push behind the album — the band has a video out for “Yo, Yeo, Yough.” It’s not often that you see a jazz video, let alone one with this kind of staging and storyline. It’s good: funny at first, then maybe a bit unsettling, but in a good way.
If you have trouble finding Slippery Rock in stores everywhere (because “stores everywhere” carry so much modern jazz, right? right?), two of your options are CD Baby and eMusic. Neither one pays me to say things like that; I just happen to like ’em.