Urban Transport's 2004 debut Introducing Urban Transport wasn't a solid representation of how good this jazz quintet really is, so it's best to experience them live. Hence, this, the group's sophomore offering, recorded last year at Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor.
Most upstart jazz bands wait years before they dare to record live. But, for better or worse, Urban Transport has always bucked convention most notably by recording only original material. Where the band's debut was overwrought, this one is lean if not polished and alive. Five of its seven tracks were written by Transport frontman and trombonist Vincent Chandler, with alto saxophonist Dean Moore contributing the other two. Moore and pianist Scott Gwinnell are outstanding throughout this set; the saxophonist's tone is rich and soulful, a la sax men Frank Stozier and Hank Crawford. And while Gwinnell isn't the combo's regular player, he nonetheless gels effortlessly. (His solos on "Ode to Wayne" and "Seldom Blues" should make your neck hairs dance.) It's difficult to keep a jazz band together these days, but it's been four years, and Urban Transport is still bucking the odds.
Charles L. Latimer writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.