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Frolic And Detour by Oren Neiman

Guitarist and composer Oren Neiman was born in Ramat-Gan, Israel, and raised in Israel and Toronto, Canada. While he started out playing in rock bands Neiman eventually discovered jazz. Moving to NY in 2001, Neiman earned a BFA from SUNY Purchase. He has studied with John Abercrombie, Pete Malinverni, Charles Blenzig and Bobby Hansman. Frolic And Detour is Neiman’s second recording as a leader. He and his band have performed at New York venues such as The Bitter End, Detour, Joe’s Pub, The 55 Bar, Cornelia St. Cafe and Makor.

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 who frequently works with his brother Scott, 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 contrapuntal feel.

Some of the music has difficulty lifting off. "D-Day" doesn’t quite seem to lock in. Neiman’s and Warren’s trading of lines sometimes miss their target with the result being two musicians playing separately and not connecting. What they lack is extensive time working together in order to create a repertoire of shared associations, but overall these musicians are on the right path.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Oren Neiman
  • CD Title: Frolic And Detour
  • Genre: World Music
  • Year Released: 2009
  • Record Label: Self-Released
  • Rating: Two Stars
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