Take Five With Oren Neiman

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Meet Oren Neiman: Born in Ramat-Gan, Israel, and raised in Toronto, Canada, and Israel, Oren grew up listening to many different kinds of music. He started playing mainly in rock bands, but soon became interested in jazz. He started studying the music, and playing in various venues around Israel.

In August 2001, Oren moved to New York, where he received his BFA from SUNY Purchase and studied with John Abercrombie. After graduating, Oren continued his studies with master teacher Bobby Hansman who helped him to further his search for his own voice on the instrument.

Oren's current projects include: Recording and performing with The Oren Neiman Quartet: with their second album Frolic and Detour released in April 2009, the band is currently performing in support of the album. The OrchesTorah project: This project is a large (9-piece) ensemble that plays music Oren wrote in response to biblical narratives. The energetic acoustic duo "IsraAlien" led by fellow Israeli guitarist Gilad Ben Zvi, this duo delves into the world of Mediterranean gypsy music and is currently touring in support of their first self-titled release IsraAlien (April 2009) Producing and performing in "Nigunim - A Festival of New Improvised Jewish Music," Oren presented this festival in 2009 to create a stage in Westchester (NY) for his music as well as other performers of this genre.

Instrument(s): Guitar

Teachers and/or influences? Studied With: John Abercrombie Bobby Hansman

Influences: here is a quick short list - Joe Henderson, Chick Corea, Lenny Breau, Astor Piazzolla, Goran Bregovic, Radiohead, The The Beatles, Sasha Argov, Dave Douglas, Brad Mehldau I could go on forever but I'll stop here... and just add most importantly the musicians I play with regularly!

Your sound and approach to music: As far as my sound, in terms of the compositions at least while it is obviously a combination of various daily elements that influence my writing, I think ultimately where I come from is an indispensable element in my compositions and the Israeli/Jewish influences are definitely a consistent thread that is there in the background somewhere all the time.

Road story: Your best or worst experience: I would have to say that one my best and earliest experiences came while I was in the army (mandatory in Israel where I grew up...). I was not in an army band officially but I formed one for a while with some good musicians that were on my base, and we were good enough that we were asked to play a few shows for a few of the units in our area.

There was nothing particularly spectacular about the music played, or about the venues or audiences, but just being able to play and rehearse for that short period of time within a three year period of not doing that regularly really reinforced and enhanced for me the joy and beauty and feeling of freedom that comes with playing music with other people.

CDs you are listening to now:

Brad Shepik - The Human Activity Suite

Astor Piazzolla - La Cammorra

Dave Douglas Quintet - Live at the Jazz Standard Ray LaMontagne - Trouble Together Again

Desert Island picks:

Joni Mitchell - Blue

Joe Henderson - Musing for Miles

The Beatles - Revolver or The White Album (undecided...)

John Coltrane - Coltrane's Sound

It gets complicated from here so I'll leave it at those four...

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? I think that jazz is definitely alive and growing and will keep on doing so, however in terms of what we can do to perpetuate this I would say use your creative energy not only for making the music but also for creating places and ways for the music to be presented, seen and heard because it needs to be out there for people to find it. We are in a time where things seem to be very much in flux and we need this kind of creativity from artists in order to continue to be in the public awareness. That and this country needs to have a secretary of cultural affairs in the government...

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