On their fourth CD, the celebrated young jazz quartet with the indie-rock name continue their audacious updating of the genre's old-school avant-garde. Despite dashes of funk and swing, you'll rarely find a sustained groove to guide your ear through the maze of varied tempos, meters, themes, and moods.
What you will hear (as on the first disc) is a collage-like juxtaposition of free four-way squalls, anthemic fanfares, sections of crafty songwriting, quotes from classic jazz and pop, and plenty of bravura playing, whether it's trumpeter Peter Evans blasting and smearing up against the mic or sustaining a tight, muted tremolo around Jon Irabagon's ardent alto and the buzzing static of leader/composer Moppa Elliott's bowed bass.
"Little Hope" is the anthem that the Art Ensemble of Chicago never wrote (though the band cite Phil Collins); "Pen Argyl" is a cracked boogaloo blues; "Blue Ball" is a sweet bossa nova that turns as evil as its title; the title track is sleek swing; and drummer Kevin Shea turns the one cover, Neil Hefti's "Cute," into brushes-and-penny-whistle-simulated electronica. MOPDTK's skill serves their crackling exuberance.
Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article, we incorrectly identified the album as the group's second CD, however, it is their fourth. The correction has been made above.