by Scott Yanow, All Music Guide
A fluent tenor saxophonist with a cool tone and a relaxed style, Matt Otto is able to glide over the most complex chord changes gracefully. For this pianoless quartet set with guitarist Greg Touhey, Otto creates cool jazz of the 21st century. The music is mostly quiet with its heat being just below the surface. Even "Class Struggle," which is essentially "Giant Steps," features Otto's playing making it sound simple and laid-back. This subtle set, which features close interplay, is worth several close listens.
by David Franklin, JazzTimes April 2006
If Paul Desmond was, as he proclaimed, the "world's slowest alto player," then Matt Otto may be the world's quietest tenor man. On the eight originals that comprise Red, Otto's dynamics rarely rise above the level of an intimate conversation. His delivery is so relaxed and subtle that even the intake of breath is sometimes audible. But although Otto doesn't strut, he does quietly demonstrate an admirable control of his instrument and of chord progressions. And he is given to well-constructed melodic lines that develop organically as they outline a formal dramatic curve. Otto does play fast and high at times, but even then the sound level is subdued. His compositions are subtle as well, often based on simple melodic lines that may or may not involve a rubato tempo.
Guitarist Greg Touhey is a compatible partner. His lovely, smooth tone compliments Otto's approach, and he's a thoughtful improviser who creates long, well-developed lines. Bassist Danton Boller and drummer Qasim Naqvi masterd the tasks of keeping the subtle time together and adding to the overall texture while maintaining the intimate dynamic level.
by Kevin Cox, Jazz Review
Tenor saxophonist Matt Otto's latest release, Red, is an intriguing collection of 8 original compositions. Otto, now based in Los Angeles, is joined here by a trio of friends from his years on the New York scene. On this disc, Otto and his band have crafted a sound that is immediately enjoyable, and increasingly impressive with each subsequent listening. Mid-tempo grooves and pensive ballads, all of the songs share a certain haunting, understated sophistication, which characterizes this CD.
Red opens with two mellow mid-tempo numbers, "Class Struggle" and "Work Day", each highlighted by the soloing of Otto and guitarist Greg Touhey. Otto's playing is tight and under control at all times ñ a boxer, not a puncher. And 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. Otto has a more than capable sparring partner in Touhey, who shines throughout, and a tight rhythm section (Qasim Naqvi, Danton Boller) in his corner, pushing him forward. Otto and company then settle into two ballads, "Fer" and "Brother Jim." On "Fer," one of the CD's best cuts, Otto lays out the soulful, breathy tone that has inspired comparisons to Stanley Turrentine. Following a rather ordinary "Brother Jim," Otto and company turn it up a notch for the final three tracks. On standouts "Forces and Relations," the beautifully melodic "Red" and "Le Mort," Otto soars with Touhey close behind. Otto's playing on these tracks, while still very much under control, is at it's most expressive and unrestrained.