Mostly Other People Do the Killing formed in the fall of 2003 in New York City. Bassist and bandleader, Moppa Elliott met trumpeter Peter Evans in the fall of 1998 at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where both studied. While at Oberlin, Elliott and Evans performed together in a series of ensembles many of which were important precursors to MOPDtK. Upon relocating to New York, Elliott met saxophonist Jon Irabagon after joining Jon Lundbom's Big V Chord. The initial drummer in MOPDtK was Vincent Sperrazza who participated in the rehearsals leading up to the quartet's first gig, November 25. Sperrazza was unable to make the gig, and his last minute replacement was Kevin Shea who had met Elliott through Mary Halvorson. The performance, at a L.E.S. series curated by Will Connell at Niagra, included a solo by Shea in which he removed his shirt and whipped his drums with it. The perfect drummer had been discovered!

Initially, the repertoire of MOPDtK included both originals by Elliott, Evans and Irabagon, and jazz standards such as "Skippy," "Moanin'" and "A Night in Tunisia." All of Elliott's compositions are always named after towns in Pennsylvania which gives his titles both conceptual distance from the musical material and an amusing back-story. The band slowly began to transform from a free-improvising jazz band, to an ensemble that deconstructed both jazz standards and Elliott's compositions, weaving in and out of styles erratically and often humorously.

Mostly Other People Do the Killing recorded its first eponymous album during the summer of 2004 and released it on Elliott's Hot Cup label. The album featured artwork by Nathan Kuruna and debuted the "shooter logo." The album represents the first time Elliott was satisfied with the results of the group's experimentation, moving in and out of time and subverting each other's musical ideas.

The compositions on their second album, "Shamokin!!!," were more focused and appropriate for the ensemble's style. The simple melodies, housed in often complex and irregular forms, were easy to use as fodder for their interactive style. Knowing that no one in the group, including himself, would play the notation exactly, Elliott simplified his compositions to become frameworks on which to base their ideas. The album was recorded during the summer of 2006 at Midtown Sound, a studio owned and operated by singer, John White who also served as the engineer. "Shamokin!!!" was included in several "Top 10" lists for 2007 and brought MOPDtK to the attention of the jazz community, including a nomination by the Jazz Journalists' Association for Small Ensemble of the Year.

Following Shamokin!!!, the band embarked on several regional tours of the northeast and midwest including Chicago, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Detroit, Boston, etc.  These tours gave MOPDtK the opportunity to play for several nights in a row and experiment further with form, seamlessly transitioning between songs sometimes at breakneck pace.

In early 2008, MOPDtK recorded their third album, "This Is Our Moosic."  By 2009, they had been voted the winners of the DownBeat Critics' Poll in the Rising Star Ensemble category, and Evans, Irabagon, and Elliott had been mentioned in their respective categories.  Shea's duo "Talibam!" with Matt Motel had released "Boogie in the Breeze Blocks" on the ESP disk label, and Hot Cup had begun releasing a wider variety of music.

MOPDtK's front line has continued to garner critical acclaim.  Jon Irabagon won the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone competition, becoming the fourth winner for saxophone, while Evans released his second solo trumpet album on Evan Parker's psi label. 

Between 2008 and 2009, the quartet spent nine days recording new material over the course of three sessions. From this material they created their fourth album, "Forty Fort" released in December 2009. The quartet made its first trip to Europe in May 2009 when the participated in the Moers Festival, followed by appearances in the Jazzores and Enjoy Jazz Festivals.

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