By Ronald Jackson
I’ve been awaiting a new release from saxman Andrew Neu for a bit. Since I tried something “Neu” in 2009, his melodies and vibe have remained with me. Now, Everything Happens for a Reason is here and worth every minute of the wait. The album is loaded in more ways than one. It has hot, jammin’ tracks, a stellar cast of contributors (Jeff Lorber, Steve Oliver, Brian Bromberg, Bobby Caldwell, Rick Braun, Alex Acuna, and some Neu family members), and attitude.
Neu wastes no time comin’ right at you with a groove that will last the whole album long. Standing tall are tracks like the lead and title track, the take-no-prisoners “Poolside,” the soulful and sax-jazzy “Hit Me Up” which features keys and fusion giant Lorber.
Among the standout characteristics of this CD are the amazing horn and orchestral arrangements found here. This is no synthed-up production. Neu has added an actual full horn section and a full string orchestra to this gem.
Another feature is the nostalgic voice of Bobby Caldwell on the swaying, totally chilled-out and sensuous “What Would I Do.” This is the kind of “take a breath and chill a minute” jazz that’s almost instantly therapeutic for whatever ails you. When you consider that Neu has toured with the likes of Caldwell and Diane Schuur, you can see how easily it would be for him to slip into this place.
In addition, I’ve heard many covers of the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Take Five,” but Neu’s added pop and snap to the tune here immediately caught and held me for the duration. Wonderfully creative and imaginative.
This album is chock full of listening pleasure for many types of jazz lovers. Refreshing, creative, and full of zest and appeal.