By Ronald Jackson
Some artists and their material achieve such a comfort level from the very beginning, and that comfort level is conveyed to listeners so early on, that the fact it attracts many of the peers in that particular genre is almost inevitable. Such is the case with saxophonist/composer Andrew Neu and his latest release, Try Something Neu, a delightful musical adventure indeed.
Try Something Neu is the third solo project for Neu. His first two, Inspire(2000) and In Clear View (2007) clearly indicated that the man was developing star power and an impressive amount of respect from his peers (Jeff Lorber, Dave Weckl, and Gerald Veasley, among others, joined him on the second release).
This album, plump with refined tonal quality and depth and bursting at the seams with originality, comes with the very attractive bonus of those peers to whom I just referred, specifically Bobby Caldwell, Brian Bromberg, Chuck Loeb, Dan Siegel, Brian Culbertson, and Gerald Veasley. This dazzling array of “hired help” is of the stuff of an artist’s dream, and all perform fully up to expectations in assisting Neu to put forth one of the finer productions on the scene today.
Neu’s style is exuberant and energetic, not to mention skilled and ultra-passionate. A case in point would be one track that comes to mind at this very moment: “South by Southwest.” On this intense cut, with Loeb and Veasley, Neu proceeds to unearth all of your primitive emotions about this type of moving music. His soul-felt screaming highs, his flawless and sharp runs, all speak to an artist totally in control of his craft and able to sensitize his offering. Brilliant piece. He follows that with a soulful “night” piece called “Open Mind” with help from Bromberg.
Bobby Caldwell, showing that he still holds his own special appeal, provides the vocals for his own “Next Time I Fall in Love,” and Neu delivers his own nod to Caldwell again by offering a bonus instrumental track of the same tune at the end of this project.
Packing that signature funk from the likes of Culbertson (on trombone) and Bromberg, “The Nut” carries its own sway and strut, while the title track bats an album “clean up” (just before the bonus track, however), putting a nice smooth yet snappy finishing touch on it all.
A well-produced effort with all of the markings for a successful outing. Trying a little something Neu can go a long, satisfying way here.