"It’s an open secret that Israeli jazz musicians are becoming a force on the New York scene, epitomized by three young guitarists, Gilad Hekselman, Oren
Neiman and Yotam Silberstein. Each was born in the Holy Land, plays a blond Gibson hollowbody and boasts a strong sophomore release.
Oren Neiman, at 31, is the ‘old’ man of the triumvirate, but his Frolic and Detour is youthfully original, a guitar-trumpet quartet - featuring Kenny
Warren, plus Doug Drewes (bass) and Kenny Shaw (drums) - that mostly avoids traditional jazz idioms in favor of an aesthetic drawing on pan-Mediterranean
folk and gypsy musics. In this all-original setlist, “Jerusalem” might be a Spanish funeral march, “Munch’s Child” a gypsy dance, “Points of View” an
Italian wedding song, “Unshines” an Eastern European folk tune and “Lijiang” a lilting Congolese soukous. Gross characterizations aside, Neiman’s
writing is both eclectic and unified, often featuring Warren’s Old World vibrato, doubled guitar-bass counterlines and unusual rhythmic accent patterns.
Neiman’s style, treble-toned and introverted, accentuates singing, unpredictable melodies."
By Tom GreenLand for All About Jazz NY (Printed - February 2010)
Review by Tom Greenland of "Frolic and Detour" as printed in All About Jazz NY - February 2010
"The music Neiman has fashioned on this recording is an amalgamation of melodic-minor scale Jewish influenced harmonies, top-flight swing lines, open-ended and divergently
juxtaposed melodic concepts that, in sum, create a unique vision. The ensemble includes Kenny Warren, a New York based young and hungry trumpeter whose tone is as rough
and tumble as you’ll find, bassist Doug Drewes, and Brooklyn based drummer Kenny Shaw. Some of the music is exceptionally good. “Munch’s Child” is a deliciously quasi-Klezmer
Hora-type dance number that traipses through various time signatures. Making the voyage exciting is how Warren and Neiman play off of each other. Rarely does Neiman
stray away from single line statements and into chordal punctuations. This gives the music the continual feel of dialogue. Warren’s splitting tone and Neiman’s restless
harmonic conceptualizations come together in a wonderful stew of the abstract. Yet, with all of their meanderings the central tenets of key and focus on melodic line are never lost.
“Homeland Stupidity” is another incredible track. Opening up with a bright and almost popish feel, eventually Neiman devolves the piece into an ostinato pattern in a half-time
tempo to feature Drewes. This warps back into the popish feel from which Neiman takes off on some of his best guitar work on the disc. Using the previous ostinato configuration
as a vocal point, Neiman uses quite of bit of repeated figuration before bringing Warren back in. By the end, and the return to the half-time feel, the concept of a musical
expedition has been achieved. “Lijang’s” sweetly styled waltz melody is also a highlight of the disc, especially when balanced against the short yet exciting quick lines used for
Reviewed by: Thomas R. Erdmann for Jazz Review.com
Review of "Frolic and Detour" by Thomas R. Erdmann for www.Jazzreview.com
"Sometimes, the best way to renew tradition is to go back to it, which is exactly what Oren Neiman has done on Frolic and Detour, an album that finds the guitarist digging deep into his Israeli roots while still remaining true to the instrumental voice he established on First Of All (Self Published, 2007). Neiman still works with a quartet, but gone are the fluid runs of tenor saxophonist Mike Stewart and instead he has enlisted the talent of trumpeter Kenny Warren, whose dry and poignant tone brings a distinctively different vibe to the proceedings.
However, the most notable change is in the musical language of the guitarist. The opener, "Jerusalem," which already establishes the link with the homeland, starts out with Doug Drewes playing an evocative pattern on the bass while Neiman adds his signature ethereal tone that has brought comparisons to his former mentor, John Abercrombie. Surprisingly, the tune takes a detour and the structure changes into an oriental groove with arabesque chord changes.
Instead of letting each tone paint a pretty picture, Neiman creates intricate and tightly knit melodies. His runs are clearer, faster and more condensed than heard before, showing him not only as an apt composer and group player, but also as an instrumental virtuoso in his own right.
"D-Day" continues to thrive on the groove factor, with drummer Kenny Shaw laying down a solid beat, and Neiman and Warren starting out in unison only to part ways in a smoking dialogue.
Elsewhere, the beautiful waltzes, "How She Sleeps" and "Lijiang" show the quartet's ability to tackle slower material with emotional impact. What's interesting is how Neiman is able to integrate the traditional folk forms of Jewish klezmer music into a decidedly modern guitar language, referencing everything from Charlie Christian to Abercrombie.
The most refreshing thing about it all, though, is that the play with musical tradition comes across as both joyful and serious. It is detour that places Neiman in the center of modern guitarists with something to say and a new way to say it. "
By Jacob Baekgaard for All About Jazz.com
Review of "Frolic and Detour" by Jacob Baekgaard from www.allaboutjazz.com
"Oren Neiman is a guitarist who likes to bring the spotlight away from himself. The focus on First Of All..., is the compositions. Instead of being a vehicle for instrumental extravaganza, each tune functions as a piece in the puzzle that creates the tranquil mood of the album. The sound is ethereal with the same use of space that can be found in the signature productions of ECM-engineer extraordinaire, Jan-Erik Kongshaug.
The musical axis of First Of All... is the interplay between Neiman and saxophonist Mike Stewart, whose soft velvety tone is the perfect partner for Neiman's thoughtful playing. There is a slight edge to Neiman's tone which may stem from his past as rock musician. Another lesson from this past could be his ability to cut to the bone.
The fallacy of being lost in ornamental doodling is the risk of every jazz guitarist, but it's completely absent in Neiman's almost ascetic play. This doesn't mean that his playing is simple; far from it. Compositions like “Sky Lark” and “JKD” evolve in tightly structured musical patterns that somehow manage to sound both relaxed and intense. This is due, in no small part, to the excellent musicianship of the rhythm section. Bassist Nick Szatmari and drummer Kenny Shaw blend in perfectly, allowing Neiman and Stewart to bloom while subtly distilling their own ideas.
On “Crystal Clear,” Neiman explores an oriental sound that is reminiscent John Abercrombie's experiments; no coincidence, since Neiman has studied with him. Fans of Abercrombie's Gateway projects, with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, will definitely find a lot to enjoy on First Of All....
In spite of the shadow of the master, Neiman has moved forward and found his own voice. First Of All... is an album of coherent beauty, showing an ambitious player following his own musical vision. "
Track Listing: First Of All; Imperfect Circle; Miss Stress; Skylark; Crystal Clear; JKD; A Mellow Drama; August. Personnel: Oren Neiman: guitar; Kenny Shaw: drums; Mike Stewart: tenor sax; Nick Szatmari: bass.
By Jakob Baekgaard for All About Jazz
Review of "First of All" by Jacob Baekgaard for www.allaboutjazz.com
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