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Transit: Transit

Tom Greenland By

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While improvising musicians thrive on novel combinations of instruments and musical personalities, there is also the sense that close and repeated creative camaraderie fosters group cohesion. Transit, the eponymously titled debut recording from the quartet of drummer Jeff Arnal, bassist Reuben Radding, alto saxophonist Seth Misterka and trumpeter Nate Wooley—all active on the grassroots avant jazz scene burgeoning in boroughs of New York—boasts both qualities, producing a satisfying blend of freshness and familiarity.

The album exhibits a variety of textures and grooves, yet remains of a piece: at times the "front line" horns juxtapose bass/drum rhythm grooves ("Brick City, part 2 ), at others the four voices interact autonomously ("Gowanus Canal ), complementing or contradicting each other.

Wooley has a fluid, bell-like sound, colored occasionally by wah-wahing and vocalizations, while Misterka's style might be characterized as aggressively minimalistic, utilizing rapidly evolving melodic ostinatos. The two work well together, creating harmonies ("Red Hook ), counterpoint ("Cortelyou Q ) and pointillistic exchanges ("DerBlatt ), as the mood moves them. Radding is omnipresent but never ostentatious, employing an encyclopedic array of timbres and tones. Arnal's percussion ranges from the hyperdriven dry cymbals of "Cortelyou Q to the tumbling tom-toms of "Brick City, part 1 and the crinkled paper effects and stop-and-go phrasing of "Journal Square.

An auspicious arrival, Transit introduces a quartet of close compadres, veterans of many shared hours on the bandstand—yet capable of surprising and resurprising each other in the heat of the improvisational moment.

Track Listing: Cortelyou Q; Van Brunt; Gowanus Canal; Sabbath Siren; Brick City Part 1; Brick City Part 2; Journal Square; DerBlatt; Ditmas Park; Red Hook.

Personnel: Jeff Arnal: percussion; Seth Misterka: alto saxophone; Nate Wooley: trumpet; Reuben Radding; bass.

Title: Transit | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Clean Feed Records


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