A mainstay for leaders from Dixieland through swing, the T-bone never quite recovered from bop, the unfortunate result being that inventive trombone-led combos have been few and far between. However, one listen to New Standards
from trombonist Ed Neumeister's quartet, makes it clear that things needn't have turned out the way they did.
With quickly and crisply enunciated solos that encompass the upper registers, Neumeister at times rings out trumpet-like on the self-composed selections "Spring Street" and "A Walk in the Woods." Both serve as opportunities to match improvisatory skill with European pianist Fritz Pauer. With highly adept articulation and mute work, Neumeister is then able to turn pianist Jimmy Rowles' classic "The Peacocks" into a showcase for the trombone's uncanny capability to mimic the human voice.
While Neumeister is clearly front and center, the session gels. This is in large part due to the creative yet solid NYC rhythm section of bassist Drew Gress and drummer John Hollenbeck, who, along with Pauer, propel things forward while keeping them focused. Ellington's "Take the A-Train" sounds fresh by virtue of Neumeister's coloration and the new course the band charts for this well-ridden route. Likewise, the oft-interpreted Kurt Weill piece "Speak Low" maintains its enchanting melodic mystery and vocal nature, primarily through Pauer's direction, as each band member uses it as a vehicle for personal expression. With New Standards , Neumeister has released a session that breaks down the trombone's stereotype by highlighting its breadth and diverse tonal capabilities within the framework of a cohesive group sound.
Personnel: Ed Neumeister - trombone/producer, Fritz Pauer - piano, John Hollenbeck - drums/percussion, Drew
Gress - double bass.