Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

227

Oren Neiman: First Of All...

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
Discussions of who deserves the recognition of being a "guitarist's guitarist" often bring up such names as Tal Farlow and Johnny Smith. They are guitar players who step naturally into the spotlight, easily grabbing the attention of the ears, technically superb and lyrically sophisticated with a clear, recognisable tone.

There's also another type of a "guitarist's guitarist," whose talent lies in working behind the scenes. His (or her) talent is the ability to create an atmosphere around the music that allows all the musicians to be heard, connecting part to whole. It isn't just about perfecting fast fluid runs on the guitar, rather it is about creating a more organic musical picture. Lennie Tristano's underrated guitarist Billy Bauer was a master in this kind of interplay, the same can be said of modern players like Ben Monder and Jakob Bro.

Oren Neiman is another guitarist who likes to bring the spotlight away from himself. The focus on First Of All..., is the compositions. Instead of being a vehicle for instrumental extravaganza, each tune functions as a piece in the puzzle that creates the tranquil mood of the album. The sound is ethereal with the same use of space that can be found in the signature productions of ECM-engineer extraordinaire, Jan-Erik Kongshaug.

The musical axis of First Of All... is the interplay between Neiman and saxophonist Mike Stewart, whose soft velvety tone is the perfect partner for Neiman's thoughtful playing. There is a slight edge to Neiman's tone which may stem from his past as rock musician. Another lesson from this past could be his ability to cut to the bone.

The fallacy of being lost in ornamental doodling is the risk of every jazz guitarist, but it's completely absent in Neiman's almost ascetic play. This doesn't mean that his playing is simple; far from it. Compositions like "Sky Lark" and "JKD" evolve in tightly structured musical patterns that somehow manage to sound both relaxed and intense. This is due, in no small part, to the excellent musicianship of the rhythm section. Bassist Nick Szatmari and drummer Kenny Shaw blend in perfectly, allowing Neiman and Stewart to bloom while subtly distilling their own ideas.

On "Crystal Clear," Neiman explores an oriental sound that is reminiscent John Abercrombie's experiments; no coincidence, since Neiman has studied with him. Fans of Abercrombie's Gateway projects, with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, will definitely find a lot to enjoy on First Of All....

In spite of the shadow of the master, Neiman has moved forward and found his own voice. First Of All... is an album of coherent beauty, showing an ambitious player following his own musical vision.


Track Listing: First Of All; Imperfect Circle; Miss Stress; Skylark; Crystal Clear; JKD; A Mellow Drama; August.

Personnel: Oren Neiman: guitar; Kenny Shaw: drums; Mike Stewart: tenor sax; Nick Szatmari: bass.

Title: First Of All... | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Solid Gold CD/LP/Track Review Solid Gold
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Ts'iibil Chaaltun CD/LP/Track Review Ts'iibil Chaaltun
by Don Phipps
Published: January 15, 2018
Read One Night in Indy CD/LP/Track Review One Night in Indy
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 15, 2018
Read A Sky You Could Strike a Match On CD/LP/Track Review A Sky You Could Strike a Match On
by Patrick Burnette
Published: January 15, 2018
Read Open Borders CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 14, 2018
Read can't believe, won't believe CD/LP/Track Review can't believe, won't believe
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 14, 2018
Read "Provenance" CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 11, 2017
Read "Sonic Cinema" CD/LP/Track Review Sonic Cinema
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 1, 2017
Read "Meet Me At Minton's" CD/LP/Track Review Meet Me At Minton's
by James Nadal
Published: June 17, 2017
Read "Far From Over" CD/LP/Track Review Far From Over
by Mark Sullivan
Published: August 28, 2017
Read "Instrumental" CD/LP/Track Review Instrumental
by Mark Sullivan
Published: June 10, 2017
Read "Live at the High Noon" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the High Noon
by Doug Collette
Published: June 22, 2017