Phillip Johnston: soprano, alto saxophones
Joe Ruddick: piano, baritone saxophone
Mark Josefsberg: vibraphone
Dave Hofstra: bass, tuba
After a long period of experimentation, The Transparent Quartet began around 1995. This four-piece group combined influences ranging from European classical music, twentieth-century composition, the West Coast “cool school,” and experimental jazz. In addition to original works by Johnston and pianist Joe Ruddick, the band’s repertoire featured arrangements of music written by Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, Charles Mingus, Art Pepper, Steve Lacy, and Charles Gounod. A drummer-less band, The Transparent Quartet combined the discipline and dynamics of chamber music with the energy and freedom of jazz.
The Transparent Quartet performed music for several projects, including the scores for Page of Madness (1926) and The Georges Méliès Project (1899-1909) The TQ also performed an original score (called “sweetly lolloping by The New York Times, and “sourly bouncy” by The Village Voice) for choreographer Kelly Garfield’s The Further Adventures of Slap & Tickle, during a 3-week run at Dance Theater Workshop with her company Sinister Slapstick. 1999 saw a new collaboration, Minor Repairs Necessary which was awarded a “Bessie” (New York Dance Award) for best musical composition for dance. The TQ performed at the Texaco New York & Panasonic Jazz Festivals, on tour in Florence, Italy, and live on WKCR-FM, WFMU-FM & WNYC-FM.
“The Needless Kiss, the latest recording by Johnston’s Transparent Quartet, is full of nineteen-fifties formalism (West Coast cool, Modern Jazz Quartet subtlety), which Johnston gleefully personalizes with sharp phrasing and free jazz tangents. It’s all held together with Johnston’s fine alto saxophone work, and superb soprano saxophone playing, and by a drummerless unit that makes imaginative use of vibes, piano, baritone saxophone, and bass.” –The New Yorker.