All Music Guide hails trombonist Ed Neumeister as “one of the finest of his generation, a giant waiting to be discovered.”
∑ Follow-up recording to 2005’s “New Standards”
∑ Released simultaneously with the launching of EdNeumeister.com, an interactive website launched through ArtistShare
Reflection features the Ed Neumeister Quartet recorded on tour in Europe. While the previous release, “New Standards”, reinforced Ed’s reputation as “one who redoes standards”, “Reflection” features all original material. Bassist Drew Gress, drummer John Hollenbeck and pianist Fritz Pauer each contribute one composition. “Reflection” produces a contemplative mood while still providing the band with plenty of opportunity to dig in. “Reflection” gracefully moves through the delicate Afro-Cuban “Trees” to the lyrical, yet rhythmically free “It was After Rain that the Angel Came.” The long form “Osmosis” features intervallic harmony and Hollenbeck’s “Coping Song”, composed September 12th, 2001 is truly reflective. The CD’s title track features a melody in which the second half is a reflection of the first half. “Yanagumi” and “Lumuria” both explore changing meters and tempos. “Gobblers Nob”, which features an exceptional group improvisation finishes the CD.
Updated 13 Mar 2007
All-About-Jazz 30 Oct 06
I am embarrassed to say that Ed Neumeister is a new name to me, since he is a master trombonist who plays the instrument with a tone and facility that almost belies its membership in the brass family.
Neumeister is a veteran of many large groups, including Mel Lewis' big band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra, the Lionel Hampton Band and the Buddy Rich Band. After living, teaching and performing in Europe for the last seven years, Neumeister is relocating back to the States. Reflection is but one of his projects, the other (main) one being his NeuHat Ensemble, which performs an exciting mix of classical and jazz.
The music on Reflection is all original, and as such is sort of the flip side to his earlier release, New Standards. Of the eight tracks, five are by Neumeister, plus one each by bassist Drew Gress (”It Was After The Rain That The Angel Came”), pianist Fritz Pauer (”Yanagumi”) and drummer John Hollenbeck (”Coping Song”). Neumeister mentions in the notes that this quartet is a real working band, and that the record was recorded while it was touring. He also talks about how the compositions by the other band members fit perfectly into his conception, without them knowing exactly what that was in advance.
A blowing record this is not, but while the arrangements are more or less evident, the music always maintains the spirit of surprise. It is very light, flexible and delicate, but with a strong center maintained by different player groupings as each track progresses. There is also a very high intelligence quotient, which should not be taken to mean stuffy or precious performances, but rather a conviction that less is more, so everything is in its place and all proceeds naturally according to a plan, without feeling even slightly ”composed.” Thus, the music is a gift, since the listener can perceive and understand what is happening and yet know that there is much more in deeper layers waiting to be explored on the next listen.
The memorable themes and melodies on this disc virtually haunted me for days and days. Whether it is Neumeister's trombone exposition of “Trees” (played in a “delicate Afro 12/8” meter), or the theme of the Gress tune, or even the more open “Osmosis,” the band's improvisation never lets the melody stray never far away—and that makes it memorable and keeps reminding the ear. Hollenbeck's exquisite, extremely moving “Coping Song,” written on 9/12/2001, is a prime example of how the group is not merely a lead trombone with a rhythm section.
Both streaming music and the liner notes can be enjoyed on Neumeister's website, but if you are like me, you will want to play the hard copy for full fidelity. While the notes are detailed, they will not replace close listening to this engaging and rewarding music. Highly recommended.
By Bud Kopman
JazzPolice 18 Oct 06
On "Reflection", Ed Neumeister's latest release on ArtistShare records, the trombonist and his team of seasoned sidemen invite us into a more delicate and introspective side of the sound spectrum. Never overbearing or forceful, they skillfully and effortlessly weave their way through adventurous terrain while maintaining steadfast interest in each of their combined conversations to keep the listener’s ear close at hand.
Neumeister himself is no stranger to the art form. Having worked with such jazz luminaries as Buddy Rich, Mel Lewis, Gerry Mulligan and Toshiko Akioshi, among others, it's no wonder why his music is both rhythmically complex and deeply lyrical.
Now, I have listened to this recording several times, each time with growing appreciation. And while I am not usually a fan of trombone solos in general, I have to admit that Neumeister’s performances are so thoughtful and beautifully executed that it just proves the notion that any instrument in the hands of a master can unquestionably soothe the savage beast.
Pay particular attention to the muted solo he takes on drummer John Hollenbecks "Coping Song"... outstanding. Other tracks that stand out as exceptional are: “Trees,” “Osmosis” and “Gobblers Nob,” all of which were written by Neumister who apparently enjoys an elicit love affair with all things outlandish and exotic. Supporting musicians Fritz Pauer (piano), John Hollenbeck (drums) and Drew Gress (bass) each contribute their own impressive compositions to round out the record.
All in all, the aptly titled Reflection is a wondrously intense and enjoyable hour-long journey into the minds of these four very reflective master musicians.
By Evan Stone
Reflection is a perfect title for this beautiful and introspective follow-up to New Standards. This time, the quartet somewhat slows down the pace and exclusively performs original material, Ed Neumeister getting the lion's share of the compositional duties, the other band members contributing a piece each. The tunes are usually built around simple melodies but feature some odd meters and subtle rhythm shifts as on pianist Fritz Pauer's "Yanagumi." The musicians are not assigned to a specific task and constantly switch roles, which gives a dynamic that offsets the dominant contemplative mood. Strangely enough, the music loses its originality when the band raises the temperature ("Osmosis"). The album's masterpiece is arguably drummer John Hollenbeck's sorrowful "Coping Song" which features some marvelous use of trombone mutes by the leader who gives his instrument an impressive voice-like quality. The band's chamber-like makes ample use of vamps over which Neumeister outstretches his notes with impeccable control. Bassist Drew Gress is again flawless and has the opportunity to work with the melody while pianist Fritz Pauer's crystalline playing offers a contrast to Neumeister's low register. As for Hollenbeck, his drum kit and various percussion accessories provides varied opportunities for accents and colors. With this outstanding supporting cast, Neumeister delivers an opus filled with rare delicacy, finesse, and subtlety. His challenge is now to improve on it.
By Alain Drouot
Jazz Times January/February 2007 issue
Reflection—both as mirroring and contemplation—is trombonist Ed Neumeister’s muse in this introspective set of original compositions. Neumeister’s band paints eight compelling scenes with autumnal colors and unusual meters, creating a musical flow that sweeps down like rain and then pauses, seemingly suspended in midair. Drummer John Hollenbeck creates open spaces in which the leader can wax poetic, while bassist Drew Gress describes gentle arcs and pianist Fritz Pauer spreads rays of sunlight.
By Forrest Dylan Bryant
All-About-Jazz March 07
Combining Ed Neumeister's loose, flowing trombone lines with the organized counterpart of a tightly sewn rhythm section, a vibrant, balanced calm permeates Reflection. Mimicking the natural patterns of a day or a life, the album’s rhythmic energy shifts smoothly within a single tune, or from track to track. The result never seems unwarranted; in fact, unexpected moments regularly pique interest, like when the chimes glint off Fritz Pauer’s piano lines during “It Was After Rain That the Angel Came,” composed by bassist Drew Gress.
Each player contributed one track to the album, and the leader filled in the rest. Drummer John Hollenbeck’s “Coping Song,” written on September 12, 2001, presents an interesting test of time and the musicians’ own relationship with it. A syncopated beat plucked out simultaneously on bass and piano underlies convoluted sounds created by a muted trombone. Neumeister makes his instrument speak a bluesy lament—talking, wailing, searching, seeking—all comprehensible on a certain human level. The dense five-note loop eases into the sparsely notated opening of the title track, played in the high range of the piano, then quickly releases its breath into a luminescent percussive shimmer by Hollenbeck. The relaxing effect is welcome after the earlier tenseness.
Neumeister’s compositions have an alacrity made apparent by this particular combination of players. They bring a level of vivacity to the arrangements, pounding hard, but also mingling amongst each other with confidence and authority.
Though many tracks meander slowly through contemplative terrain, many of them bust into high-energy displays. The opening “Trees” features maelstroms of big, showy energetic solos from each player. Neumeister takes the lead, flittering around with sophisticated and gleeful buoyancy, easily pulling himself into and out of a variety of situations. Gress continues the enthusiasm, brandishing a deft hand over his bass; Pauer adds dramatic passion, jostling the piano keys about before embarking on an intrepid journey to the summit. Hollenbeck plays rumbling percussion that recalls acrobatics. It all culminates in a firecracker finale.
By Celeste Sunderlund
EjazzNews 17 Aug 06
Trombonist and composer Ed Neumeister has performed with some of the best big bands in the business, from the Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich and the Mel Lewis big bands of the past to the contemporary renowned Vanguard Jazz Orchestra. The last seven years however, Neumeister has lived and worked in Austria, teaching and playing with his modern quartet. Now back in the United States, he is busy promoting his most recent release on Artist Share Records, Reflection, recorded earlier this year from Vienna/Austria and Zurich/Switzerland.
Joining the leader on this album are Fritz Pauer on piano, John Hollenbeck on drums & percussions and bassist Drew Gress. The album contains eight original compositions from members of the band with Neumeister contributing five charts producing a set of primarily contemporary mainstream light jazz with sparks of electricity. With the exception of “Osmosis,” the third track, all of the tunes begin slowly in a generally down-tempo mood that warm up into light melodies.
The program opens up with the light rhythm and beat of the percussive “Trees,” featuring a heavy dose of Neumeister’s trombone. Bassist Gress introduces the next piece, which he also penned, “It Was After Rain That The Angel Came,” a gentle and warm harmony.
The band picks up the pace on “Osmosis” a quick moving tune that the leader cooks well with some fine voicing of his instrument. The Title cut starts out rather slowly with some spacing between the first few notes in a four-bar progression and repeating chorus that turns into a ten minute tease containing a nice piano excursion by Pauer. The pianist comes through ones again on his own composition “Yanagumi,” accompanied well by Neumeister’s trombone. The disc rounds out with two notable scores by the leader, “Lumuria” and “Gobblers Nob.”
Reflection captures that warm and soft side of jazz with several mellow and introspective tunes showcasing a fine performance by a world-class trombonist/composer and a veteran combo. An enjoyable album that will please the jazz aficionado and the mainstream audience alike.
By Edward Blanco
All-About-Jazz 16 Aug 06
After twenty years in New York, trombonist Ed Neumeister went expatriate in 1999, moving his family to Vienna, Austria; he now holds the position of Professor of Trombone studies at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts in Granz, Austria. A veteran of many top big bands led by Duke Ellington Orchestra, Lionel Hampton, Buddy Rich and others, he also earned a Grammy nomination for his arrangement of “A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square” in 1992, and he's worked as a freelance trombonist for numerous philharmonic and symphony orchestras.
Despite all those accomplishments, two of his bandmates on Reflection—bassist Drew Gress and drummer John Hollenbeck—can claim higher profiles. Pianist Fritz Pauer rounds out the quartet, which showcases some gorgeously facile group interplay.
The quartet's equilibrium is remarkable. A trombone has the ability to blow in the direction of bombast and brassy volume, but Ed Neumeister's group sounds almost chamber-like in its equality, with each touch of the cymbal ringing clear, each plucked bass note throbbing distinctly. Neumeister—the composer and player—is a master of subtlety and finesse on open or muted horn, and Pauer adds splashes of swirling bright colors with masterful aplomb.
Five of the eight tunes here are Neumeister originals, along with one piece each from Hollenbeck, Gress and Pauer. Things get “jazzy” at times, as on the Neumeister-penned ”Osmosis,” where the trombone sits in a more up-front position; but for the most part, this is thoughtful, erudite music—democratic music, relentlessly beautiful sounds that seem almost suite-like in their interconnectedness.
Reflection shines a very deserved spotlight on a lesser-known talent.
By Dan McClenaghan
JazzRock-Radio.com & AllMusicGuide
Ed Neumeister's Reflection is quality jazz, easy to digest, softly slick lounge-esque and well-crafted, flowing grooves. You like jazz brass that absolutely avoids brash bellowings and predictably, hip-styled, near-fracks & flashy, triple-tongued sputters? Then by all means and online savvy -- seek, find & grab a copy of Reflection today! Remember that ECM, low-keyed, under-the-radar, classic release Gallery of yesterday? When I heard "Reflection" -- I was totally in ECM Gallery blissville. Great stuff! And yes, the rest of the quartet doth shine as well in a strongly supportive and soloing way.
"Ah, Mr. Neumeister -- your table is ready, sir. Oh, I see, nice horn you have there. The stage is over there. A drink before the show?"
n ~ John W. Patterson of JazzRock-Radio.com & AllMusicGuide
REFLECTION by the Ed Neumeister Quartet
Ed Neumeister, trombone; Fritz Pauer, piano; Drew Gress, bass; John Hollenbeck, drums and percussion.
MEISTEROMUSIC / ARTISTSHARE 0058 (www.MeisteroMusic.com, info@MeisteroMusic.com)
Ed Neumeister: Trees. Drew Gress: It Was After Rain that the Angel Came. Ed Neumeister: Osmosis. John Hollenbeck: Coping Song. Ed Neumeister: Reflection. Fritz Pauer: Yanagumi. Ed Neumeister: Lumuria. Ed Neumeister: Gobblers Nob.
The latest release from Ed Neumeister is REFLECTION, a brilliant recording featuring an acoustic quartet. The disc contains eight compositions; all originals written by Neumeister and members of his quartet.
This CD was recorded in two sessions, one in 2001 and the other in 2003 and Neumeister’s liner notes indicate that the group performed these tracks in roughly the same order on tour. The interaction of the performers and the subtle nuances they can create after having performed together for several years is clearly evident. The group seamlessly changes the rhythmic feel, uses altered sounds, mutes, or additional percussion to set the mood, and provide meaningful dialogue during improvisations. At times, such as in Gress’ It Was After Rain that the Angel Came, the group interaction is so involved that no one member of the group is at the forefront for long. Neumeister’s playing on the disc is superb as he effortlessly soars into the upper register, handles rapid improvisations, and soothes with the simplicity of his rich, beautiful tone and velvety legato style. He delivers many “reflective” solos in this disc; lyrical improvisations that could just as easily have been the main melody.
The compositions on this recording are well-conceived and presented with great care and attention to details. Neumeister’s liner notes are also very informative and offer insights into the compositions and the meanings of reflection that the group is trying to portray. For example, Reflection has two halves that mirror each other, Coping Song was written on September 12, 2001 by John Hollenbeck and is truly reflective, and as a way to document a scenic trip through the Austrian Alps, Neumeister wrote Trees. The result of the information and outstanding musicianship on display is a recording with a great deal of depth to give the listener something new to hear each time they listen to this recording.
University of Southern Mississippi