...like a skilled boxer, he stays within himself, confidently bobbing and weaving melody through the steady rhythm, jabbing and dancing, soloing in flurries of notes.
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.
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)
Produced by Matt Otto
Recorded by Duane Trower at Weights and Measures, Kansas City, MO
July 2022, Feb 2023
Mixed & mastered by Matt Otto at Jazz Collective Records, Kansas City, MO
Cover design & layout by John Bishop
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 ...