Matt Otto


Origin 82877


iTunes - $9.99

"Umbra" is the latest album by Matt Otto, an impressive tenor saxophonist and composer...Unique. Creative. Brilliant. Progressive. Musical.
Jazz Artistry Now

From New York to Los Angeles and Kansas City, saxophonist Matt Otto always cultivated an inspired musical community with which to surround himself. Now having 14 years of performances with the energized and spontaneous KC duo of bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer John Kizilarmut, the vibrancy of their interactions is a given, and apparent, as the trio provides the momentum for this set of nine Otto originals. On several tracks, Matt Villinger's Fender Rhodes provides astute chordal realizations of Otto's harmonies, while guitarist Alex Frank adds an edge of free, '70s-era fusion energy. Also featured is the Paris-based trumpeter Hermon Mehari, who returns to his Kansas City roots occasionally and was in town to add his sparkling voice to three pieces. Embracing harmonic openness and guided by their shared sense of direction and play, Otto and his ensemble create a captivating musical emprise within Umbra.

" a skilled boxer, he stays within himself, confidently bobbing and weaving melody through the steady rhythm, jabbing and dancing, soloing in flurries of notes." Jazz Review

Track Listing:

1. Little Things 8:02
2. Hawk 5:00
3. Mousai 3:17
4. Prez 6:35
5. Paw Paw 7:13
6. Umbra 3:22
7. Wanjiku 5:39
8. Esthesis 6:44
9. Melisma 7:04

All compositions by Matt Otto | ottotto music ASCAP


Matt Otto - tenor sax
Jeff Harshbarger - bass
John Kizilarmut - drums
Hermon Mehari - trumpet (1,4,8)
Matt Villinger - Rhodes (1,2,4,6,8)
Alex Frank - guitar (1,2,4,6,8)

Production Info:

Produced by Matt Otto
Recorded July 2022 & Feb. 2023 by Duane Trower
at Weights and Measures, Kansas City, MO
Mixed & mastered by Matt Otto
at Jazz Collective Records, Kansas City, MO
Cover design & layout by John Bishop

Reviews of Umbra

All About Jazz (Dan McClenaghan)
This music—nine Matt Otto originals—has the feeling of shadowy sounds. Shapes without defined borders emerge. On the opener, "Little Things," the core trio—the leader plus bassist Jeff Harshbarger and drummer John Kizilarmut—are joined by Fender Rhodes player Matt Villinger and guitarist Alex Frank. The electronic resonance gives the sound ...

Jazz Weekly (George W Harris)
Tenor saxist Matt Otto blows smoke like a Cohibo cigar on this album of smoky mellow madness. He's teamed with Jeff Harshbarger/b, John Kizilarmut/dr, while mixing and matching Herman Mehari/tp, Matt Villinger/key and Alex Frank/g. In full band setting, he lets the tenor drift like a nimbus cloud on "Little Things" while showing his influences o ...

WTJU (Russell Perry)
Kansas City-rooted quintet formed around the tenor of Matt Otto performs a set of nine originals with heart. Four of the tunes are presented as a tenor – bass – drums trio (the leader plus Jeff Harshbarger and John Kizilarmut) begging positive comparison to Sonny Rollins landmark recordings from the 50s and 60s as Otto mines the spare format f ...

Jazz Views (UK) (Ed Sapiega)
Matt Otto, saxophonist and leader, is an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at Kansas University and an Adjunct Professor at Rutgers. Otto's website contains articles and lessons for and about music. Otto has spent over thirty years becoming a master improviser. For this CD Otto uses Kansas City and St. Louis musicians. Some, like ...

Take Effect (Tom Haugen)
The tenor sax extraordinaire Matt Otto has a lengthy history of live performances, and here he captures that energy with Jeff Harshbarger, John Kizilarmut, Hermon Mehari, Matt Villinger and Alex Frank for these 9 fusion filled songs. ‘Little Things" wastes no time making an impression with Otto's radiant sax alongside Kizilarmut's agile drumm ...





  • Origin Records
    8649 Island Drive South
    Seattle, WA 98118
    ph: (206) 781-2589
    fx: (206) 374-2618
  • Email / Order Info / Etc