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 Wooleyall active on the grassroots avant jazz scene burgeoning in boroughs of New Yorkboasts 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 bandstandyet 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.
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.