Programming is an essential part of any recording endeavor, but one that too often is slighted. This new release by Austria’s Jazz Big Band Graz is a case in point; a generally commendable album whose weakest track is for reasons unknown placed first. And to compound the misstep, trombonist Ed Neumeister’s “Here & There” runs for more than eleven minutes! Far better (in this reviewer’s opinion) to have opened with the sunnier and more rhythmically appealing “Locomotion” (last in line) or even Wayne Shorter’s harmonically lavish “E.S.P.” (which immediately follows “Here & There”). Once track two starts spinning, Neumeister’s sizable talents cast a much larger shadow, both on his own compositions, “The Right Tree” and “Longing” (on which he also solos), and his delightfully fresh arrangements of the standards “Alice in Wonderland” and “My Shining Hour.” In fact, the more one listens the stronger the impression becomes that “The Right Tree,” which dashes smartly along behind admirable solos by pianist Fritz Pauer and baritone saxophonist Herwig Gradishnig, may be the most persuasive track on the album — with “Locomotion,” “E.S.P.” and “My Shining Hour” only a step away. “Shining Hour” is greatly enhanced by trumpeter David Jarh who easily earns the prize for most memorable solo. Others who make a strong impression include trumpeter Horst Michael Schaffer (muted) and alto Heinrich von Kalnein (“E.S.P.”), Pauer and trombonist Gzregorz Nagorski (“Alice in Wonderland”), bassist Wayne Darling (“My Shining Hour”) and tenor Klaus Gesing (“Locomotion”). As for Neumeister, he conducts a small–scale clinic on “Longing,” a sumptuous ballad whose mellow voicings for brass and woodwinds complement perfectly his muted trombone. The JBBG, a world–class ensemble by any measure, has no trouble unraveling Neumeister’s often formidable charts, and aside from the song that lends the album its name (and that, alas, precedes the others), Here & There
is warmly recommended.
Contact:Fax +43 (0)3452 829575; e–mail email@example.com; web site, www.jazzbigbandgraz.com
Personnel: Sigi Feigl, director; Ed Neumeister, composer, arranger, trombone solo (