City Sounds Radio Review of Try Something Neu
Review by Dick Fairchild
Try Something Neu is Andrew Neu's third album and is definitely something Neu. From the first to the last track, it's going to have you groovin' in your chair if not up on your feet dancing to the rhythms. The thing that sets this cd apart from his last outing, "In Clear View", is the horn arrangements. The horn work has the old school feel of the Tower of Power horns and yet can deliver an orchestrational backup when needed or produce a jazz big band feel. One thing for certain......no matter what mode they're in, they never lose the groove.
This project comes with guest appearances from some of the finest names in smooth jazz today. Kicking off the cd is Chuck Loeb, on guitar, sharing the spotlight with Andrew on a tune called Chez Cool. This track sets the mood perfectly. There are some fine exchanges between Loeb and Neu and some great supporting work from Demetrios Pappas on the organ.
Next up is Libra Rising, a track written by Brian Bromberg, in which Bromberg handles the bottom end duties with solid bass work. This is more of an up tempo melodic smooth jazz track, with Neu delivering the melody and the horns, along with Bromberg, providing groove and support.
South By Southwest is all Andrew Neu. It has catchy timing and a very cool break at midpoint where Neu displays some fine solo work. Then it's back to the melody and out the back end. From here we go to a nice laid back track with Dan Siegel on the keys titled Open Mind. Andrew sets down the melody and shares an exchange or two with Siegel.
This next track, The Way Forward, is written by Chuck Loeb and is solely Neu and the horns. Andrew steps outside on this one and displays a very nice improvisational solo, while the horns provide support and maintain the gentle smooth jazz flow of this tune.
This cover of the 1987 Bobby Caldwell song "Next Time I Fall In Love" is performed by Bobby Caldwell and sounds very much like the original. Andrew's sax work is a very nice addition to the arrangement. There is also an instrumental version on the cd.
No Hang Tonight is one of my favorite tracks. It takes off with a Billy Preston style gospel flavor and goes into a large horn section jazz feel. It still keeps the groove with some fine keyboard work, a very cool trumpet solo, and Andrew's sax to tie everything together.
Wanderlust is a song written by Neu and is another melodic smooth jazz track with a very nice flow.
Back to the funk with The Nut. Here come the horns with some fine old school sounds. They do relinquish the reins to Andrew for some funky sax work, but they push this track from start to finish. What a groove!!
Now for the grand finale, Try Something Neu. In my opinion, this should be the headliner for the album. It is the culmination of everything before it, in that it has a catchy flow, fine solo work, a great horn arrangement and it imparts a feeling of satisfaction that you'd only feel after having partaken of something very good. However, it could very well be the start of something very good.
To sum up.....this is by far one of the best contemporary cds out at the present; however it is a very hard album to review in that it can't be placed in any cookie cutter mold. The dimension to the music in this project is incredible, as a single track can sound funky, then have a smooth jazz feel and even shift to a big band straight ahead jazz groove. I guarantee this cd will hold your interest and will certainly inspire you to Try Something Neu.