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Jazz group Mostly Other People Do the Killing to perform at Wexner Center for the Arts

Courtesy of Hot Cup Records

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Aside from its name, New York City-based quartet Mostly Other People Do the Killing possess an uncommon characteristic of a jazz band.

“We’re probably the only group that plays written material where every performance is mostly unplanned in terms of what songs get played,” said Moppa Elliott, the group’s bassist, songwriter and frontman. “It’s a way of making very spontaneous written music happen. I can’t think of anybody else that does the same thing we do.”

The band, which got its name from a quote that 19th century inventor Léon Theremin allegedly said in defense of Joseph Stalin, is scheduled to perform Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Wexner Center for the Arts’ Performance Space as part of its jazz series.

After arriving back in the United States from a tour in Europe on Monday, the group is slated to bring what Elliot called an “ebullient” show to its Columbus performance. 

“It’s jazz that is very energetic and very fun,” Elliot said.
Chuck Helm, the director of performing arts at the Wexner Center, said he read about the band in jazz magazines and listened to its 2008 album, “This Is Our Moosic,” before deciding to check out the band while in New York City for a conference of performing arts presenters.

“They hold the Winter Jazz Festival in conjunction with that conference, where there are about 70 artists in five different clubs over two nights,” Helm said. “Mostly Other People Do the Killing was one of the bands that I really wanted to go see, and I was knocked out.”

Helm said he was so impressed with the group that he wanted to invite them to play at Ohio State. 

“I went up after the show and introduced myself (and) said, ‘Let’s bring you guys out to Columbus,'” Helm said. “So now we’re doing it.”

He said what attracted him to the band was its ability to present skillful music in an exciting way.

“They’re top-notch talents, but at the same time, they’re not afraid to have some fun with the material,” Helm said. “The way a lot of jazz artists project themselves on the stage is very serious, about their virtuosity and the compositions. It’s nice as a contrast to see some guys that like to have fun with the music too.”

Elliot said for the group’s live performances they play a large array of songs but condense them. 

“We merge together multiple different songs all at once, which is one of the hallmarks of the way we play live. So we might play any one of 50 songs, or bits and pieces of any one of them,” he said.

Jennifer Wray, marketing and media assistant at the Wexner Center, said the uniting characteristic of the jazz acts invited to play at the Wexner Center is their musical excellence.

“With the performers of the jazz series, they’re all going to sound quite different from one another, but they’re all standouts in that particular genre,” she said.

Tickets are $16 for members, $18 for the general public and $13 for students and can be purchased online through the Wexner Center’s website. 

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