Ed Neumeister

Reflection

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Reflection is a perfect title for this beautiful and introspective follow-up to New Standards. This time, the quartet slows down the pace somewhat and exclusively performs original material, Ed Neumeister getting the lion's share of the compositional duties, the other bandmembers contributing a piece each. The tunes are usually built around simple melodies but feature some odd meters and subtle rhythm shifts as on pianist Fritz Pauer's "Yanagumi." The musicians are not assigned to a specific task and constantly switch roles, which creates a dynamic that offsets the dominant contemplative mood. Strangely enough, the music loses its originality when the band raises the temperature ("Osmosis"). The album's masterpiece is arguably drummer John Hollenbeck's sorrowful "Coping Song" which features some marvelous use of trombone mutes by the leader who gives his instrument an impressive voice-like quality. The band makes ample use of vamps over which Neumeister outstretches his notes with impeccable control. Bassist Drew Gress is again flawless and has the opportunity to work with the melody while pianist Fritz Pauer's crystalline playing offers a contrast to Neumeister's low register. As for Hollenbeck, his drum kit and various percussion accessories provide varied opportunities for accents and colors. With this outstanding supporting cast, Neumeister delivers an opus filled with rare delicacy, finesse, and subtlety. His challenge is now to improve on it.

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