AMG (All Music Guide) REVIEW:
NEUMEISTER, ED/NEW STANDARDS/Vienna
48:44/1. Take the “A” Train~4:55~Strayhorn, Billy
2. Picks & Pans~7:42~Scofield, John
3. Spring Street~9:51~NEUMEISTER, Ed
4. The Peacocks~8:19~Rowles, Jimmy
5. A Walk in the Woods~10:39~Neumeister, Ed
6. Speak Low~7:18~Weill, Kurt
Pauer, Fritz/piano, Hollenbeck, John/drums/percussion,
Gress, Drew/double bass, Neumeister, Ed/trombone/producer.
Wesely, Gerhard/engineer, Gallager, Linda/photos
This self-produced and hard-to-find Austrian release features trombone phenom Ed Neumeister in a rare, intimate setting as leader of a first-class quartet. The American trombonist's classical music background is reflected in his carefully articulated lines and pristine sound, but as with Wynton Marsalis, Neumeister is equally at home playing jazz standards, as he does here with considerable aplomb. Boasting a comfortable three-octave range, the under-recorded Neumeister easily negotiates the changes to his complex "Spring Street," in which he leaps wide intervals with incredible speed, and on the signature Strayhorn tune "Take the 'A' Train," on which the trombonist soloed regularly during his time with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. In terms of technique, Neumeister can do it all, from exhibiting expansive range; spectacular agility; trills; and old-time, down-home, gut-wrenching effects with the wah-wah mute, something he displays to excellent effect on Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacock." At his best, as on the latter tune, the trombonist is one of the finest of his generation, an underrated giant waiting to be discovered. The only drawback is the lack of emotional depth on some of the tunes, in which a consistency in volume detracts from the overall effect. Nonetheless, for much of this recording, the trombonist brings his considerable bag of tricks to the table and leaves the listener largely satisfied, ready for more. His first-rate rhythm section, particularly drummer John Hollenbeck, is a big plus. — Steven Loewy
Metro Music - Timescraper Records
Review - Cadence Jazz
The most incredible thing about Ed Neumeister’s Metro Music , besides the astonishing display of virtuosity, is that it has taken two small foreign labels to document his performances as a leader. This, his second recording, showcases Neumeister’s slide pyrotechnics in two completely different settings: a quartet, with Kenny Werner on piano, Dennis Irwin on bass, and Mike Clark on drums; and a totally different quintet with Billy Drewes on reeds, Jim McNeely on Piano, Jamey Haddad on drums and Irwin again on bass. Although no recording information is given, my hunch is that the groups were recorded some distance apart.
If Jimmy Cleveland can be labeled a super J.J. Johnson, then Neumeister should be coined a ultra-Carl Fontana. For raw ability, speed, agility, and range, he is virtually unmatched, lifting the trombone to a new level. Neumeister is known variously for his marvelous muted effects in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, his unrecorded free jazz performances with Don Byron, Tom Cora and others, and his classical music technique, all of which have gained him the respect of professional musicians. Beyond them, however, he is hardly recognized.
Metro Music could, if widely distributed, be a step toward changing that. While the recording is flawed (some arrangements work better than others, the recording quality suffers a bit on the quintet performances, the arrangements do not always hold interest, and the sidemen sometimes pale in comparison to the leader), this is still one heck of a showcase for Neumeister’s talents as a player and composer.
The quartet cuts are pristine examples of the heights to which the trombone can soar. “Row To Tow” an angular twelve tone composition, unpretentiously shows off the trombonist’s low key, but hard-to-believe handle on the horn. Neumeister owns the trombone, and whether it is range or velocity, it is hard to imagine anyone with greater authority. Throughout, his solos awe, with leaps to the highest notes playable on the horn, and accelerated against-the grain precision. His “talking ‘bone” sounds off on “Weeping Willows”, where the muted effect is eerie if not uncanny. Kenny Werner lends powerful pianistic support and solo space on the quartet numbers, while Jamey Haddad’s percussion sparkles on the quintet pieces.
Metro Music does not always present Neumeister in his best venue, but until he emerges on his blockbuster (which is sure to come), this is the best we have.
Steven A Lowey