Neal Miner

The Real Neal

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Jazz music became an important part of bass player Neal Miner virtually from the time he left the womb. His father, Bill Miner, was a jazz discographer and collector and was an early influence. Jazz drummer Eddie Locke taught music at the day school where Miner attended elementary and middle school. The motivation established by this heritage is heard on Miner's maiden album, where he wisely offers a balanced play list of originals and standards, allowing the listener to hear his talent unfold in a full range of compositional settings. Miner is one of the new breed who has broadened the lyrical and harmonic concepts and technical skills of a Red Mitchell, Ray Brown, or George Mraz to the point that his playing is basically seamless. His tone seems lighter than found in many bass players, giving the music he plays both in solo and supporting others a less-dense foundation. These attributes can be heard to good effect on such cuts as "Bassism" and "Night Owls." The latter shows off the tenor sax of Doug White, who is on six of the 11 tracks, and the clean-sounding guitar of Chris Bergson and offers drum break opportunities for Joe Strasser. Another feature which makes this album attractive is the way the players relate to each other. They coalesce and interact so effectively to make the group an instrument unto itself as on such cuts as Miner's "Blues for Red and Brown." Each of the five standards gets a fresh paint job with improvisations that enhance but don't destroy the melody. One of Miner's more brilliant moments comes with his playing of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." This is a fine first outing, leaving the listener hoping for more.

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