The music of Urban Transport can be characterized as hard-driving traditional modern jazz with an edge. The relatively rare frontline combination of trombone and alto saxophone provides a signature sound quality that contrasts with the ubiquitous quintets that feature trumpet and tenor sax. Chandler's trombone playing has a Thoroughbred quality: he likes to play fast, with driving rhythms, sweeping the pulse ahead of him. By contrast, saxophonist Moore likes to take things a bit more slowly, and his solos often begin in a deliberate, pensive manner. He likes to take a small but dramatic idea and play with it, patiently examining it from every angle before moving on to something else. He will build intensity from small blocks, and when he finally reaches a climax, the effect can be absolutely thrilling. Both Chandler and Moore have developed an enviable mastery of their instruments: no matter how fast and hot they may play, everything is executed cleanly and precisely, with perfect intonation. They are also steeped in and respectful of tradition but do not strive to re-create it. Unlike most of their contemporaries, neither sounds like anyone else. Much the same can be said of Dobbins and Deas, who are responsible for holding everything together and keeping the drive going.
Urban Transport is at Kerrytown Concert House on Friday and Saturday, November 18 and 19; the shows will be recorded live for the band's next release. This is undoubtedly a good idea, since these musicians thrive on interaction with their audiences and would be constrained in a recording studio. They have a good following here, but they are simply too good to remain a local secret. Let's hope that a good recording will provide them with the passport to broader acclaim.