"Wake Up Call"
Street Date: July 15th, 2017
Comprised of eight original compositions, “Wake Up Call” reflects the angst and worry that many members of today’s diverse communities encounter on a much too regular basis. It represents the need for change - the need for a wake up call - in society, as humanity itself heightens the ever growing worldwide concern for mother earth and her inhabitants.
“Wake Up Call” serves as a showcase for Neumeister’s expertise as a composer, arranger and conductor rather than a trombone soloist, as he appears on just two tracks. In contrast to many jazz albums, Ed veers away from the usual strong focal point of improvisation, and instead, perhaps because of his classical music background, directs his ensemble to interpret the compositions from an ensemble point of view. He is a composer and conductor and this is the core genesis of the music on this album. Although “Dog Play” and “Reflection” both allocate sections to group improvisation and interaction, the universally-lauded composer tends to avoid the jazz tradition of solo improvisation. The first and last tracks of the album, “Birds of Prey” and “Wake Up Call” are both through-composed. Now in his mid-60s, Neumeister continues to create music that, although rooted in the tradition, explores new sounds and sonic landscapes.
A year since Neumeister’s last release “Suite Ellington” (Universal/Poa), “Wake Up Call” presents its listener with a string of thought-through, exemplary compositions. These eight tracks have been in the works for just under a quarter-century, with the oldest, “Locomotion” composed back in 1995 for a big band in Denmark. Alongside everything else that this album stands for, genre-spanning “Wake Up Call” conveys Neumeister’s wealth of knowledge and influence of a range of music including jazz, classical, world and funk. Throughout his career, Neumeister has been exposed, as both a listener and musician to a variety and diversity of music, and as a result, now regards himself as having a particularly wide scope as both a composer and performer. “Wake Up Call” was recorded in just two days back in September 2014, at Systems Two Recording Studios, Brooklyn.
The opening track, “Birds of Prey” presents its listeners with a style of writing which is sometimes dense but always clear, and it exemplifies what composer-arranger Gary McFarland said was the most valuable writing lesson he learned from Gerry Mulligan: “Build for climaxes.” With Neumeister’s admiration for Duke Ellington in mind, this opening track aptly reflects the spirit of a little-known 1941 recording by Juan Tizol and Ellington, titled “Moon Over Cuba”. Continuing the Ellington thread is “Dog Play,” a feature for Billy Drewes, who is one of four former bandmates of Ed’s (the others being Dick Oatts, Rich Perry, and John Riley) from the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and who is an undersung master of several reed instruments, including the clarinet heard here. The other pieces display additional dimensions of Neumeister’s writing prowess. “New Groove” highlights the instantly identifiable tenor saxophone of Rich Perry. “Reflections” lives up to its title: a slow-motion “concerto for jazz orchestra” that nonetheless moves forward compellingly and with more than a trace of introspection. “Deliberation” is a complete change in texture, with thick, parallel block harmonies. The soloists here are the singular alto saxophonist Mark Gross, and Neumeister. “Wake Up Call” is a fitting conclusion to the CD as well as a worthy title track. In essence, it sums up everything that Neumeister has attempted to achieve with these eight varied original compositions, composer-arranger and saxophonist, Bill Kirchner explains.
The NeuHat Ensemble
The NeuHat Ensemble, based in New York City, was established in 1983. It began as just an octet, and through many various incarnations, has developed into a prestigious jazz orchestra. Throughout the years, it has always maintained its standard of high-quality all-star members, which at one point, included Grammy winner, Joe Lovano, esteemed composer, pianist, teacher, Kenny Werner, multi-instrumentalist Don Byron and widely acclaimed percussionist, Jamey Haddad. Rather than viewing this group as a big band, each of these talented musicians regard The NeuHat Ensemble as a jazz orchestra, making it their mission to combine each individual voice, color and texture in a myriad of ways.
Many would regard Ed as a thoroughly motivated and driven musician. Although one could argue that honing your talent as a trombonist, to no matter how high a level, is not the most direct pathway to jazz stardom, Ed has continuously displayed his determination in succeeding in this particular career path. As well as receiving praise from notables such as trumpeter Randy Brecker and the late composer-conductor-historian Gunther Schuller, eminent saxophonist and educator Dave Liebman has called Ed “one of the best trombone players on the scene.” His drive as a composer is also evident from his daily routine as he begins each day of creativity and writing at 5am! It is through this exceptional willpower and musical merit, that he has become an accomplished composer, arranger and bandleader.
Wake Up Call is Funded in part through a generous grant from the Aaron Copland Recording Program.
Wake Up Call is supported in part by New Music USA’s CAP Recording Program, made possible by endowment funds from Mary Flagler Charitable Trust.
Additional funding by Indigogo.com NeuHat Ensemble, Crowd Funding, Campaign.
More on Ed´s Biography
Ed Neumeister was born in Topeka Kansas and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 50’s and 60’s. He began playing music at the age of 5 with trumpet. He switched to trombone when he was nine. He was a longtime fixture on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene.
After moving to New York in 1980, Ed performed for 15 years in the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and 19 years with the Mel Lewis Big Band (which during Neumeister’s tenure became the multi Grammy-nominated Vanguard Jazz Orchestra).
Other renowned artists he performed and recorded with include Jerry Garcia, Gerry Mulligan, Frank Sinatra, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn. Not limited stylistically he also collected experience by performing with classical orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Ballet.
In 1992, Ed toured for the first time as a guest soloist in Europe. Since then he has been invited extensively as a conductor and guest soloist in Europe and US. Many of these invitations include composition commissions because of his unique mixing from the traditions of Big Band Jazz and Contemporary Classical. His arrangement of A Nightingale sang in Berkeley Square was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Through his conducting and composing activities Ed established, among others, a regular relationship with the Metropol Radio Orchestra (Netherlands) and the Budapest Jazz Orchestra (Hungary).
Since 2007 Ed has also been active in the film music business. He has contributed orchestrations for films such as Inception, Sherlock Holmes, The Dark Knight and the 2012 Academy Awards.
Ed Neumeister was Professor of Jazz Trombone at the University of the Performing Arts, Graz Austria 1999 – 2017, and is now based in New York City.
"Wake Up Call is a delight from start to finish with melodies that linger long after the final fade." Read the full review here.
"Elegant without being stuffy, this is a mega feast for your ears." Read the full review here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"If you are drawn to music that is more or less off the beaten path and challenges your mind and spirit, composer / arranger / trombonist Ed Neumeister's new album may well serve as the anomalous Wake Up Call you've been waiting for." Read the full review here.
BIRD IS THE WORM
"Enjoyable big band session that attains the right balance between textural density and fluid motion. A mix of traditional and modern conventions, and Neumeister’s NeuHat Ensemble deftly blurs the line between the two so that the transitions are subtle and, consequently, dramatic in an odd sort of way." Read the full review here.
"Man, this thing swings! Its eight originals by the multi-talented Neumeister are diverse, engaging, entertaining and sounds best if played really loud." Read the full review here.
"Although glancingly evocative of Duke, there’s room for a contemporary attitude, which makes of Wake Up Call a bracing album packed with pleasurable sounds to be discovered." Read the full review here.
RAUL DA GAMA
JAZZ DA GAMA
"Those musicians who are not asked to solo may remain in the background, but like everyone else on the record, their voices are heard just as marvellous as each is loud and clear on Wake Up Call." Read the full review here.
"Neumeister presents his complex, multi-faceted charts over eight tracks, long on granular textures, sectional interplay and tight motivic kernels." Read the full review here.