Sunday, July 20, 2008

BREAKING THE BAND

Trombonist Vincent Chandler Dear Vincent,

I’m writing this blog to express the hurt I felt when I heard Urban Transport broke up. I know it’s been nearly one year now, and that’s a long time to keep my feelings about the band’s separation bottled up, but I could never find the right combination of words to express my hurt. I wondered why you, alto saxophonist Dean Moore, drummer Sean Dobbins, and bassist Yusef Deas decided to stop performing together. You guys were so compatible.

Urban Transport was my favorite Detroit based jazz band. I thought the group would stay together forever. You guys put in a lot of man hours perfecting the quintet’s sound. I can’t think of one jazz band from Detroit that only performed original music.

You always wanted Urban Transport to be taken seriously. I still think about the reception the quintet got at the 2005 Detroit International Jazz Festival. Of the performances at that fest, Urban Transport received one of the few standing ovation. You blushed when the audience stood up and begged for an encore.

Backstage a fellow from out of town told me he never imagined an ensemble of twenty-something musicians could be so poised and play so soulfully. Man that was a memorable afternoon.But you weren’t satisfied. You wanted the band to be a featured act on the main stage. In an interview for a story I wrote about Urban Transport published in the Metrotimes you told me the group rehearsed religiously because you didn’t want the group to be perceived as a jam session band.

Vincent, I never told you I’ve been a big fan since you were one of the late tenor saxophonist Donald Walden’s pupils. I watched you grow into to an exception trombonist and bandleader.

As the leader of Urban Transport, you treated Moore, Dobbins and Deas like equal partners. You encouraged them to write, and you never hogged the spotlight. I respect you for that.

I found out about the break up last year. I noticed Urban Transport wasn’t on the lineup for the 2007 Detroit International Jazz Festival. I talked to Bill Higgins, the drummer for Bop Culture, at the fest. I asked him why you guys weren’t performing. He said you moved to New York to be with your wife. Initially, I thought the group had irreconcilable issues.

A few months ago I went to Bert’s Marketplace to hear Moore’s new band, the Dean Moore Quartet. Moore and I chatted after the first set. He said the split was consensual. The guys knew you wanted to be in New York with your wife. And you encouraged them to pursue other endeavors. Moore said you’re doing great in New York.

Your ex-band mates are succeeding. Several months ago Dobbins released his first album as the leader of Sean Dobbins and the New Jazz Messengers. Moore is composing for his band the Dean Moore Quartet, and Deas is gigging steadily. Vincent, I really miss Urban Transport. I hope you guys reunite soon.
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