The following reviews are of two new releases on OA2 Records. The two musicians featured here are both young Chicagoans, and these albums are their firsts as leaders on the label. I reviewed both initially on Twitter and have consolidated them here. Ben Neuman – Introductions Neuman slips a waltz arrangement of “Blame It On […]
The following reviews are of two new releases on OA2 Records. The two musicians featured here are both young Chicagoans, and these albums are their firsts as leaders on the label. I reviewed both initially on Twitter and have consolidated them here.
Ben Neuman – Introductions
Neuman slips a waltz arrangement of “Blame It On My Youth” into his debut record, but there’s really nothing to blame on his young age. For a 21-year-old, Neuman comes off as an extremely mature player. The risks he takes are exciting both on paper and on the keys, and with time he’ll learn to push the boundaries of this music even more. The record takes off briskly with Coltrane’s “26-2,” and right away, there is something different about Neuman’s playing. It’s a quirky, almost legato, and seemingly un-bebop articulation of the uptempo melody. Of the eight tracks, only “M.J.D.” is an original, with a bass-heavy, fast and hard swing that rocks you. Neuman is intense but relaxed over it. The piece fits perfectly alongside the standards and other pieces by Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver. Drummer George Fludas and bassist Dennis Carroll form an excellent supporting cast, but with exception to a couple short drum solo trades, they remain just that. I would love to hear more from Carroll, but the spotlight here is clearly on Neuman and the wings he’s earning with his first album.
Tracks: 26-2; I Fall In Love Too Easily; M.J.D.; Peace; Riot; Blame It On My Youth; You and the Night and the Music; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.
Personnel: Ben Neuman: piano; Dennis Carroll: bass; George Fludas: drums.
AJ Kluth Quintet – Twice Now
A polished saxophone tone over gritty distorted guitar and heavily metered grooves is the formula, if there is one, for Chris Potter’s Underground. Saxophonist AJ Kluth’s newest release shows, at times, many similarities to his elder in jazz. At Kluth’s age, it’s difficult to escape the influence of Potter, one of today’s main tenor saxophone heroes. But at 29 years old, he has assembled a formidable ensemble capable of both being inspired by and setting itself apart from such trend-setting groups. Kluth only contributes three original compositions to the record, but they stand out as the most cohesive, best executed, and most attractive tunes of the lot, even over their arrangements of Chick Corea’s uptempo “Litha” and Thom Yorke’s “Atoms For Peace.” Unison melody with guitar and saxophone is a trend in almost every piece. The melody of Ascher’s composition “Sleeping” contains this technique, and although its melodic arch is beautiful and the repetition is entrancing, by track 8 the technique is dangerously close to becoming old hat.
Tracks: Red; Revolutions; A Time, Times, and Half a Time; Wi Fi?; Quiet…Then Go; Litha; Coliseum; Sleeping; Atoms For Peace.
Personnel: AJ Kluth: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Nick Ascher: electric guitar; Sean McCluskey: piano, fender rhodes; Cory Biggerstaff: double bass; Stefan Czestochowski: drums.