By Skip Spratt
As outlined in previous SaxShed.com reviews, Andrew Neu has been gradually and steadily building a name for himself since the early 90s. I have witnessed his growth and maturity as both a person and musician over the past two decades. He has truly hit his stride with the very polished release Try Something Neu.
The energetic opening track Chez Cool features Andrew Neu and Chuck Loeb on tenor and guitar respectively. Neu’s command of the saxophone speaks for itself as he travels up and down the horn with grace and subtle edge. Chez Cool provides a funky bed to showcase both sax and guitar – a familiar smooth jazz pairing done well here. Later on, Neu shows an even more aggressive, beefier tenor sound on the very funky – The Nut.
Libra Rising mellows things out a bit with the sound of Neu’s soprano sax. No rough edges here, just top shelf production and playing by all involved.
One of my favorite tracks, South By Southwest features Neu’s alto punctuated by his Bright and Tight Horns. It really begins to cook at about three minutes into the tune with Neu stretching over the ensemble ostinato, horn soli and a beautiful bridge back to the main theme. Another noteworthy solo comes in Wanderlust at the hands of Andrew’s melodic solo soprano saxophone lines.
The first three tracks on this Cd showcase Neu on tenor, soprano and alto sax respectively. Neu has long tried to achieve the noble goal of having a voice on all the saxophones. This is apparent after listening to only the few minutes of Try Something Neu. Each listener with surely have their favorite but Neu handles the different personalities of the three horns with great execution and outstanding intonation at all times. Unfortunately, the later is not true of all smooth jazz recordings receiving air play these days. It is a pleasure to hear well-trained, well-practiced saxophonist on this Cd.
The remainder of Try Something Neu is peppered with little gems from Andrew Neu, another coming at 3:14 into The Way Forward. Neu ventures into the less traveled altissimo on the soprano sax as he solos over the vamp – very nicely done.
Again, there is something for everyone here. Next Time I Fall In Love featuring Bobby Caldwell harkens back to a time when the saxophone shared a prominent role alongside pop vocalists. Perhaps this track is just the jump-start the music business needs in order to hear more pop saxophone on the radio…
No Hang Tonight features a refreshing contrast to the otherwise more predictable smooth jazz offerings. The bluesy, New Orleans style jam features Bromberg on acoustic bass and Philadelphian Chuck Gottesman on trumpet.
Ever well-recorded and produced Cd should take the listener on a journey of sorts. Our journey is rounded out with the title track and final instrumental version of Next Time I Fall In Love.
Andrew Neu has successfully raised the bar with each of his three subsequent releases aimed at contemporary jazz saxophone fans . Any fan of smooth jazz, saxophone and great production values will not be disappointed with Try Something Neu on nuGroove Records.