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Jon Irabagon

Saxophonist Jon Irabagon, winner of the 2008 Thelonious Monk Competition, has been nominated by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) in both the “Up and Coming Artist” and “Tenor Saxophonist of the Year” categories for its prestigious 2011 Jazz Awards.

In the “Up and Coming Artist” category, Irabagon joins such talented musicians as Ambrose Akinmusire, Darius Jones and Gerald Clayton in being recognized as those to watch in coming years. Other nominees in the “Tenor Saxophonist of the Year” category include such legends as Chris Potter, Joe Lovano, Sonny Rollins, Tony Malaby and Wayne Shorter. Award winners are selected by JJA members who have until May 11th to vote.

“In looking at who has been nominated in both of these categories and the incredible body of work these artists have put out, the cliché that it’s an honor just to have been nominated is true,” said Irabagon. “It’s absolutely amazing to have my name on the same list as those who I see as the best and most thought-provoking musicians in jazz today.”

Irabagon has 4 records under his own name and has appeared as a sideman for a wide-range of others. His most recent, Foxy (Hot Cup Records), features long-time collaborator and percussion icon Barry Altschul in a swinging, non-stop, post-bop high-wire act, attacking and dissecting a simple 16 bar form for almost 80 continuous minutes. Foxy appeared on the “Best of 2010” lists for a variety of jazz journalists, including David Adler and Hank Shteamer. Along with Foxy, Jon played pivotal roles on two other drastically different recordings from 2010 that made Top 10 lists from members of the JJA community: Mostly Other People do the Killing’s Forty Fort, and Mary Halvorson’s Saturn Sings, which was picked by several members as the top CD of the year.

Irabagon has a full travel schedule this summer, bringing his Foxy trio to the legendary Moers Jazz Festival, recording a new CD with the Mary Halvorson Quintet, as well as a month long European tour with Mostly Other People do the Killing (winner of the Rising Star Ensemble award in the DownBeat critics poll in 2009), and as the foil for Kenny Wheeler for several Canadian jazz festival appearances featuring pianist Myra Melford. He is also set to record his next release this month, featuring Ralph Alessi, John Hebert, and Tom Rainey. Known for his comprehensive, far-reaching approach to jazz, Irabagon weaves fluidly from straight ahead to post-modernism to everything in between. The experimental flavor found in Mostly Other People do the Killing sits side by side with Irabagon’s own groups, as well as his tenure in the Mary Halvorson Quintet, guesting with Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, and his continuing duo work with Mike Pride. This work is complemented by other more straight-ahead performances and records with Joey DeFrancesco, Jeremy Pelt, and Kenny Wheeler, and Jon has begun collaborating with Norwegian hip-hop mogul Tommy Tee — all within the last year.

This flexibility and daring is part of what makes him unique in jazz and improvising today.

“Envision a Hollywood star who, in the same calendar year, stars in both a crowd-pleasing Hollywood blockbuster and a cryptic experimental film, and you’ll get a sense of Irabagon’s continuing work.” – Hank Shteamer, Time Out NY. Irabagon has also received continuing media attention, including features in Signal To Noise, Burning Ambulance, Jazz & Tzaz Magazine in Greece, Cuadernos de Jazz World Magazine in Spain, as well as several online podcasts and blogs. A solo from his record The Observer (Concord) was transcribed and analyzed in DownBeat Magazine.

A graduate of both Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music, Irabagon’s already impressive resume includes performances and recordings with such well-known artists as Wayne Shorter, Mary Halvorson, Evan Parker, Joey DeFrancsco, John Edwards, Kenny Wheeler, Nicholas Payton, Charles Gayle, Kenny Barron, and with non-jazzers Billy Joel, Michael Buble, Conor Oberst, and Renee
Fleming. He is based in New York City.

..:: SOURCE: BKMusicPR.com ::..