The Needless Kiss was the first CD by Phillip Johnston's Transparent Quartet, the drummerless quartet he formed in the late 1990s after leading The Microscopic Septet and Big Trouble. It was released in 1998 on Koch Jazz, but is now out-of-print, due to the corporate downsizing of that label. In addition to originals by Johnston and pianist Joe Ruddick, the group played distinctive arrangements of tunes by a variety of composers, for instance on this CD, Frederic Chopin & Raymond Scott.
The Transparent Quartet:
Phillip Johnston: soprano, alto saxophone
Joe Ruddick: piano, baritone saxophone
Mark Josefsberg: vibraphone
David Hofstra: bass
Artist: PHILLIP JOHNSTON
A saxophonist, composer and arranger of both jazz and new music, Phillip has been a significant figure in the underground music scene of New York’s downtown since the beginning of the 1980’s. He has composed extensively for film including Paul Mazursky’s Faithful, Philip Haas’ The Music of Chance and Money Man, Dorris Dörrie’s Paradise and Geld, and, recently, Stolen Life by Peter Rasmussen & Jackie Turnure & Noise by Henry Bean. He has also written for silent film, including Tod Browning’s The Unknown, The George Méliès Project, Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Page Of Madness and F.W. Murnau’s Faust. His theatre composition credits include Measure For Measure, War Of The Roses, The Comedy Of Errors, The Merchant Of Venice and Macbeth for Bell Shakespeare; Young Goodman Brown with Richard Foreman, Venus with Suzan-Lori Parks, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Ruysch and The Falls with Hilary Bell, and Drawn To Death: A Three Panel Opera with Art Spiegelman. Dance credits include Karole Armitage’s The Predators’ Ball and Keely Garfield’s Minor Repairs Necessary for which he won a ‘Bessie’ in 1999.
This CD was originally released in 1998, and went out of print when Koch Jazz was corporately down-sized. These are copies of the orginal CD from the artists own stock.
From reviews of The Needless Kiss:
“Phillip Johnston is one of the most original and witty composers and bandleaders in jazz¬—as likely to give a sweet and heartfelt chamber jazz rendition of a Chopin mazurka as to one of Raymond Scott’s cartoon ditties.”
—The Boston Phoenix.
“The quartet members blend their disparate influences skillfully and their work, like Raymond Scott’s, abounds with eccentric humor and lyricism.”
—Harvey Pekar, Boston Herald.
“This odd, engaging, drummerless band mixes braininess with mirth—the longtime hallmarks of their leader, saxophonist Phillip Johnston.”
“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 phrasings and free jazz tangents. It’s all held together by Johnston’s fine alto-saxophone work and superb soprano-saxophone playing, and by a drummerless unti that makes imaginative use of vibes, piano, baritone saxophone, and bass.”
—Steve Futterman, The New Yorker.