All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

1

Matt Otto/Andy Ehling: Reunion

Don Phipps By

Sign in to view read count
A Los Angeles import whose left an indelible mark on the Kansas City jazz scene, tenor sax and composer extraordinaire Matt Otto continues his run of successful jazz explorations with Reunion, a collaboration with 30-year friend and Bay Area, CA alto saxophonist Andy Ehling.

Otto's music has always seemed a bit out of place in the more swing, blues and bop oriented jazz that populates much of the Kansas City scene. Thankfully, the gifted Otto's subtle, sensitive folk-oriented urban jazz melodies and formal explorations have been welcomed in KC with open arms.

Nine of the album's compositions are penned by Otto and two by Ehling. The album opens with Otto's "Euphony," where the two sax players interweave ebullient notes that seem to flow like a soft gust of autumn wind through the leaves. The handoff between Otto's opening gliding solo and Ehling's contemplative response at the two-minute mark demonstrate their teamwork. The music is bolstered by contributions from keyboard player Leonard Thompson, bassist Ben Leifer, and drummer Brad Williams.

Otto often pens compositions dedicated to historical figures, friends, places, and elements of nature. Otto's moody composition "Dubois," offers a musical interpretation of the great civil rights activist and founder of the NAACP. His song "Elm" paints a green canvas of sound that suggests a walk through a forest teaming with birds on a sunny morning. The song is anchored by a solid and empathetic solo by bassist Leifer.

Ehling brings a strong sense of bop-swing to his song "Eleven Thirty." Thompson jumps in with some bluesy chords on his Rhodes before the song gives way to a cool interjection by Otto. The title song, Otto's "Reunion," certainly has the feeling of two old friends sharing memories over wine and dinner. "Twain" is a more ruminative piece, highlighted by a warm pairing between Otto and Thompson that evolves into group interplay. Otto exhibits his own bop sensitivities in his composition "Alder," his saxophone virtually flying up, down and around, while Ehling anchors his solo with some warm blues. Thompson then enters atop the rhythm section, and together the group drives the song to its conclusion.

Ehling's second composition, "Tien Mu," is a blues walk. It is followed by three more Otto compositions. "Lenigh" evolves from an earnest Otto/Ehling blend to a more abstract Otto offering. "Southerland" walks a fine line between the formal and the cheerful. The album concludes with "Ja Nae," again a heartfelt blues-folk collaboration.

While not the best of Otto's work, "Reunion" certainly offers much more than less. Where the album struggles is in its lack of cohesiveness. However, although the compositions lack a holistic slant, they provide a fine representation of the various aspects of Otto's music. That and the two Ehling pieces make "Reunion" a worthy album.

Track Listing: Euphony; Dubois; Elm; Eleven Thirty; Reunion; Twain; Alder; Tien Mu; Lenigh; Southerland; Ja Nae

Personnel: Matt Otto: tenor saxophone; Andy Ehling: alto saxophone; Leonard Thompson: Rhodes; Ben Leifer: bass; Brad Williams: drums

Title: Reunion | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Viewed In

Viewed In

Matt Otto
Ibeica

Transformation

Transformation

Matt Otto
La Commune

CD/LP/Track Review
Take Five With...
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Red by Dan McClenaghan
Read more articles
Reunion

Reunion

Self Produced
2017

buy
Iberica

Iberica

Origin Records
2017

buy
Soliloquy

Soliloquy

Self Produced
2016

buy
Baobab, Retruning, Joe-Less Shoe

Baobab, Retruning,...

Jazz Collective Records
2008

buy
Red

Red

Origin Records
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read Love + Time + Divination CD/LP/Track Review
Love + Time + Divination
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2018
Read Gleb Kolyadin CD/LP/Track Review
Gleb Kolyadin
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 22, 2018
Read NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil// CD/LP/Track Review
NEVER DIE! by \\livingfossil//
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: February 22, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Geannine Reid
Published: February 22, 2018
Read SuperClusters CD/LP/Track Review
SuperClusters
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Your Queen Is A Reptile CD/LP/Track Review
Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read "The Out Louds" CD/LP/Track Review The Out Louds
by Don Phipps
Published: December 5, 2017
Read "Black Diamond" CD/LP/Track Review Black Diamond
by Joe Gatto
Published: March 7, 2017
Read "Screen Sounds" CD/LP/Track Review Screen Sounds
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 20, 2017
Read "Killing Bugs" CD/LP/Track Review Killing Bugs
by Kevin Press
Published: November 20, 2017
Read "Heart Knows" CD/LP/Track Review Heart Knows
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 2, 2018
Read "Bricks" CD/LP/Track Review Bricks
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 17, 2017