Tag Archives: Jeff Arnal

Squid’s Ear review by Kurt Gottschalk

Transit – Quadrologues (CF 143)
There’s something pleasantly round about the music made by the quartet Transit. The group’s conjures notions of transportation, but their music feels more vehicular, more about the means of movement than some application of the old jazz saw of “going places.” They are more like a close shot on the “going” itself — more gerund than noun.

Drummer Jeff Arnal assembled the band for the 2006 release Transit (in time-tested fashion, the first album’s title becomes the name of the band) and here they hone their approach, tighten their focus, amplify their intent. Despite their base of operation, and even their naming a track for New York’s subway system (“Z train”), they seem more akin to Montreal’s smaller underground transit with it’s big, spoke wheels and rubber tires. The Métro de Montréal trains move more quietly, and invite observation of their means of movement, whereas the Z train hides its tiny, noisy wheels behind a skirt of metal. The Métro invites us to gaze upon its wheels, the roundness, the spokes, the mechanics. They move, they blur, they slow, they stop, their big bicycle wheels doing yeoman’s work. There’s something deceptive about them: the rubber tires so puncturable, the spokes too thin, it seems they’d break under the weight of hundreds of commuters, a split axle in the middle of the tracks like a child’s toy racecar, immobilized and never to be repaired.

But the Métro doesn’t stop in its tracks, and neither does this quartet, a classic “pianoless” ensemble à la Ornette. They are, they seem, sturdy, round and spoked. Reuben Radding’s bass at times rumbles to speaker-shaking depths behind an exciting horn section of shining star Nate Wooley on trumpet and Seth Misterka, a saxophonist deserving of much more notice. Together, they are in flux, in constant motion, in tempos more like undulating waves than machine guns or woodpeckers. They slow and speed up again (wait, make that more like a local train than an express!) with interconnections (spokes) happening more quickly sometimes than the ear (eye) can make out. The ten tracks seem to move past without pause, changing within as much as between. An exciting sort of dialogue, or quadrologue, spokes, bespoken.

Cadence Magazine review by Jerome Wilson

Transit – Quadrologues (CF 143)
The group Transit contains musicians such as Reuben Radding and Nate Wooley, who are known for doing more abstract music, but here the four men work together to form a powerhouse group sound. Seth Misterka’s alto and Wooley’s trumpet are consistently powerful whether pealing out lyrical melodies or spitting intense whispers. But it’s the rhythm section of bassist Radding and drummer Jeff Arnal that really holds it all together with deep, thudding rhythms in the energy sections of this work and enveloping cymbal and bow work on the quiet parts. “Flip” features shuddering sax and trumpet over rattling bass and drums that resolves into vocalized alto phrases. And “Walking On Fire” is hair-raising group shouting. “Speaking In Tongues” best shows the group’s strengths with Wooley crying forlornly in semi-Arabic wails over Arnal’s and Radding’s rubbery beats with Misterka oozing through the cracks. Transit is a band that shows a potent blend of exoticism and power.
©Cadence Magazine 2010 www.cadencebuilding.com

Le Son du Grisli review by Guillaume Belhomme

Transit – Quadrologues (CF 143)
Et la même invention, aussi : dans le déploiement d’une musique en équilibre toujours précaire et qui fait de son état vacillant le premier de ses atouts (Strata), sur l’air latin flirtant avec le minimalisme de Walking on Fire ou encore sur de lentes progressions affirmant davantage au fil des secondes, jusqu’à changer une mollesse d’abord revendiquée en morceau d’épaisseur irrésistible (Meeting Ground, The Science of Breath). Jusqu’au bout, Transit invente en quartette vigoureux mais distant, si ce n’est en conclusion, sur Myrtle Avenue Revival, pièce dont le free fantasque évoque Don Cherry (Wooley aux avant postes) histoire de finir sur un grand hommage. http://www.lesondugrisli.com/

All About Jazz review by Clifford Allen

CF 143Transit – Quadrologues (CF 143)
Nate Wooley – The Seven Storey Mountain (Important Records)
The work of trumpeter Nate Wooley falls into a number of camps: free improvisation, experimental noise or restructuralist postbop. It would be easy to lump him in with a young trumpeters/ extended techniques setting but Wooley is decidedly an individual. And while brass players tend to elicit an expected bravura, Wooley is very much at home in collective exploratory endeavors as one color in a very broad palette.

Transit is one of the first outfits that Wooley began working in when he arrived in New York from Denver and Quadrologues is the quartet’s second disc. Here, Wooley is joined by drummer Jeff Arnal, bassist Reuben Radding and altoist Seth Misterka on ten collective improvisations. While the group structurally hints at a piano-less quartet and attachments to post-Ornette non-chordal bop, such a model couldn’t be further from what Transit actualizes. A piece like “Time isn’t what you think” explores the cycles of breath, anguished whispers and near shrieks peeling away spatial layers as Misterka’s mournful, wide vibrato keen rises out of hums and sighs. Plodding pizzicato and rattling percussion mark intervals and like many of the improvisations here, there’s an airy pause that signals the end of the experience, giving one the feeling that a window on activity has shut while the foursome continue onward. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of infectious, swinging rhythm—Arnal has a penchant for funky, flitting cross-rhythms that echo John Stevens’ Ed Blackwell-ian moments. “Speaking in Tongues” features a soulful, throaty Radding solo interwoven into a light polyrhythm and piercing golden unison.

Seven Storey Mountain is an exploration of (and creation of) environment, which finds Wooley joined by semi-regular partner Paul Lytton on percussion and David Grubbs on harmonium, as well as the inclusion of field recordings made in Jersey City. The landscape as it is initially defined here is restive, ultra-low tones bubbling only slightly to the surface. The nature of their production is unclear, perhaps electronic or a low-tone gong. Metallic breaths and gravelly burble seem assigned to a trumpet or a contact mic, while crinkling footsteps and swaths of air might signal taped Jersey environs. Though extremely subtle, the play of low tones and breaths and the introduction of rattling percussion and Grubbs’ droning harmonium enter and recede cyclically: Ten minutes in, electronic and breath palettes become dense as a clear, rolling patter of snare, cymbals and sticks generate an active blueprint toward present, immediate speed. Wooley notes, “My internal rhythm is really, really fast actually. Lytton and I have talked about this a little, because we have very similar at rest tempos, meaning the velocity that we tend to be most relaxed in.” In other words, the pensive and subtle cycles at the piece’s outset become almost closed-in, allowing environmental self-awareness to move from slow realizations to those of hyper-speed, fierce futurities.

Jazz’n’More review by Jürg Solothurnmann

CF 143TRANSIT – Quadrologues (CF 143)
Improvisationen, die oft wie komponiert klingen. Die Karten werden neu gemischt; die Errungenschaften von europäischer Free Music und Free Jazz verbinden sich auf anderem Niveau mit vororganisierten Strukturen. Arnal, ein Schüler Milford Graves, publiziert bei Clean Feed die zweite CD seines Quartetts – mit dem Braxton-Schüler Misterka und mit dem Trompeter Wooley, seinerseits ein Schüler des immens unbewerteten amerikanischen Free Music-Pioniers Jack Wright. Die vier gehen sehr kooperativ und gleichzeitig selektiv zuwerke und bauen meistens transparente Ereignisse, wobei die Stilistik manchmal näher bei sparsam distanzierter Neuer Musik und manchmal bei groovend kommunikativem Free Jazz liegt. Die zwischen drei und neun Minuten langen Ereignisse enthalten interessante Klang- und Geräuschkombinationen, die getrennt durch Pausen ausgekostet werden. Dadurch ergibt sich eine Vielfalt von Gesten, Gestalten und Aktionen. Mal fliesst die Musik, mal stockt sie, erzählt kleine Geschichten und ist trotz Modernität und Zurückhaltung gut anzuhören. Vielversprechend.

EJazz news review by Glenn Astarita

CF 143Transit – Quadrologues (CF 143)
The second offering by this New York City based quartet is largely assembled upon an abundance of intriguing tonal contrasts, where progressive and free-jazz translucently merge into a coherent group-centric sound. Designed with layers, and climactic theme building maneuvers, the hornists’ generate soaring and frenetic phrasings atop levitating motifs, tinged with minimalist exchanges and weaving lines.

They transmit an emotive gait that touches your senses in various ways and means. At times, alto saxophonist Seth Misterka and trumpeter Nate Wooley render haunting sub-plots, driven home by drummer Jeff Arnal’s rolling tom patterns. Yet the musicians temper the flows via soft overtones, and a few concise nods to world music. No doubt, this is not a one-dimensional outfit.

With bustling metrics and spiraling horns, the musicians also plunge into a bit of crash and burn fare on the avant-jazz romp titled “Meeting Ground,” where Misterka’s popping notes, communicate a sense of urgency. Otherwise, the respective performers are well-known within global jazz and improvisation circles due to their extensive solo and group-led discographies. Hence, the synergy here becomes evident early on and further evidenced by the whirling ostinato and circular passages executed on the memorable “Speaking In Tongues.” In sum, it’s an entertainingly divergent and persuasive string of musical events.

Tomajazz review by Pachi Tapiz

CF 143Transit – Quadrologues (CF 143)
Quadrologues es la segunda grabación del cuarteto neoyorkino Transit en Clean Feed. Tal y como ocurría en su primera obra, que tomaba como título el nombre del grupo -o viceversa, ¡quién sabe!-, estos cuatro músicos vuelven a publicar un CD con diez piezas. Con una duración media inferior a cinco minutos, únicamente tres de ellas superan los siete minutos de duración.

Huyendo de los esquemas usuales, los temas comienzan por lo general de un modo suave a partir de las notas lanzadas por uno o a lo sumo dos de los integrantes del cuarteto, especialmente por parte de la trompeta de Nate Wooley o el saxo de Seth Misterka. A partir de ese material el cuarteto va construyendo unas composiciones instantáneas en las que los cuatro músicos combinan elementos estructurales y expresivos pertenecientes fundamentalmente a la tradición de la libre improvisación y del free-jazz, pero en la que también incorporan aromas provinientes del bop o de una cierta forma de entender la música étnica. Sin embargo, por encima de etiquetas o categorizaciones, es un placer para los oidos disfrutar de un discurso creativo en el que los elementos más importante son el diálogo y la interacción entre los cuatro músicos.