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Matt Otto: Red

Dan McClenaghan By

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Saxophonist Matt Otto is Los Angeles-based these days, but for his fifth CD, Red, he got together with some musical running mates from his time in New York: guitarist Greg Toughy, drummer Qasim Naqvi, and bassist Danton Boller. Considering its standard jazz lineup of tenor sax and a rhythm section, the band has crafted quite an original sound.

The set of eight Otto orignals sustains a hauntingly restrained mood from start to finish, churning along in a cool fluid simmer that rises at times toward a slow boil, without ever quite doing so. And that dyamic works very well in this case. The sound, the blend of tenor sax and guitar, the gentle insistence of the bass/drums has a forlorn, restrained mid-tempo beauty that translates to an insideously mesmerizing listening experience. It's as if Otto and company have seized upon a series of relatively simple musical ideas and driven themselves deeply into them with a smoldering, frictionless group equilibrium.

Otto's tone has a round, ringing quality, and I initially had the feeling that, on this outing, the saxophonist might have been influenced by the trio put togther by another Origin Records artist, bassist Jeff Johnson with sax man Hans Teuber and drummer Tad Britton on the excellent Near Earth (Origin Records, '04). Informed that Otto recorded Red before he'd heard the Johnson disc—though he later played with saxophonist Teuber—I can only guess there's a musical kinship or rapport going on there; and while Red manifests a different collective personality than Near Earth, it does have a similar feeling of tranquility and, also similarly, it enchants, compelling the listener into multiple spins.

Track Listing: Class Struggle; Work Day; Fer; Brother Jim; Forces and Relations (bass intro); Forces and Relations; Red; Le Mort.

Personnel: Matt Otto: tenor saxophone; Greg Toughy: guitar; Qasim Naqvi: drums; Danton Boller: bass.

Title: Red | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Origin Records

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