The Oren Neiman Quartet
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The Oren Neiman Quartet

New York City, New York, United States

New York City, New York, United States
Band Jazz World

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May
06
The Oren Neiman Quartet @ Lauretano's Pizza Jazz Series

Bethel, Connecticut, USA

Bethel, Connecticut, USA

Feb
04
The Oren Neiman Quartet @ Branded Saloon

Brooklyn, Illinois, USA

Brooklyn, Illinois, USA

Jan
13
The Oren Neiman Quartet @ GRAND PROSPECT HALL

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Brooklyn, New York, USA

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Music

Press


Discussions of who deserves the recognition of being a “guitarist's guitarist” often bring up such names as Tal Farlow and Johnny Smith. They are guitar players who step naturally into the spotlight, easily grabbing the attention of the ears, technically superb and lyrically sophisticated with a clear, recognisable tone.
There's also another type of a “guitarist's guitarist,” whose talent lies in working behind the scenes. His (or her) talent is the ability to create an atmosphere around the music that allows all the musicians to be heard, connecting part to whole. It isn't just about perfecting fast fluid runs on the guitar, rather it is about creating a more organic musical picture. Lennie Tristano's underrated guitarist Billy Bauer was a master in this kind of interplay, the same can be said of modern players like Ben Monder and Jakob Bro.
Oren Neiman is another 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.
- By Jakob Bækgaard(All About Jazz)


"...an album(Frolic and Detour) full of Mystery, intrigue, fine soloing, and playfulness". - Jazz Improv Magazine


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. - Thomas R. Erdmann



"...I can hear some Abercrombie and Goodrick in there, but Oren is clearly finding his own unique voice as a jazz guitarist..."
Maurice Hogue - Host CKUW's "One Man's Jazz" - Maurice Hogue


“Neiman’s new recording (Frolic and Detour), with a new quartet, is quite a unique statement. It is predominantly Jazzy, but it also touches upon ethnic themes and rhythmic patterns, often using odd meters and unusual harmony. Also the unusual sound blend of the guitar / trumpet combination gives the listener the impression of hearing something innovative and rarely attempted before.” - Adam Baruch www.jazzis.com - Jazzis.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.
Oren Neiman at All About Jazz.
Visit Oren Neiman on the web.

- Jakob Baekgaard


Nigunim – A festival of New Improvised Jewish Music in Westchester New York Kicks of with a performance by The Oren Neiman Quartet

In a recent concert performed by the Oren Neiman Quartet, the spotlight was on compositions by Neiman himself that took listeners on a journey of the Jewish soul.
The audience experienced the sultry and stark summer heat of Israel, with a melody entitled “August” and a gateway into the Middle East in the piece “Jerusalem”. From its opening bass solo, we were transported into the heart of that ancient place. The exciting improvisation of a well-known Eastern European “nigun” (a wordless melody) had listeners enraptured. The sounds of Neiman’s compositions are sophisticated, the playing of his quartet masterful, and the ambience of the performance space was intimate, with thoughtful staging resembling a night club
Oren Neiman, a native of Israel, has been living in New York for the last seven years, and performing with his quartet at various acclaimed New York and international venues and festivals.

Neiman’s first recording was released in early 2007 and his second will be out sometime soon. He is an imaginative and sensitive composer and engages in a unique musical conversation with his fellow instrumentalists.

This concert was the first in a series of three being given under the title “Nigunim New Improvised Jewish Music”, organized by the Israeli musicians and composers Oren Neiman and Koby Hayon. The two remaining concerts will also be held at Westchester Reform Temple, 255 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale, New York 10583, on Saturday nights, April 18 and May 16, at 8 PM. For ticket information e-mail info@nigunimfest.org or see www.nigunimfest.org . Whether you love Jazz, Israeli music, Jewish music, new innovative sounds or are feeling musically adventurous, you will want to experience the music of “Nigunim”.

- Nancy Abrahams


Discography

As a Leader:

"First of All" - Oren Neiman - 2007
"Frolic and Detour" - Oren Neiman - 2009

As a Sideman:

"Isra-Alien" - Isra-Alien - 2009

Photos

Bio

“Neiman creates intricate and tightly knit melodies…an instrumental virtuoso in his own right.” - Jakob Baekgaard All About Jazz

Guitarist Oren Neiman’s music is both innovative and in the forefront of today’s jazz styles, as well as being celebrated for his technical precision. His compositions explore a combination of Jazz sensibility with Middle Eastern rhythms and melody.

Born in Ramat-Gan, Israel, and raised in Toronto Canada, and Israel, he grew up listening to many different kinds of music; He started playing mainly in rock bands, but soon became interested in jazz. Oren considers both of his cultural backgrounds to be integral to his music and has a strong connection with both countries.

In August 2001, Oren moved to NY, where his quartet is currently based.

Oren’s current projects include: Recording and performing with The Oren Neiman Quartet: with their second album “Frolic and Detour” released in April 2009, the band is currently performing in support of the album.
The energetic acoustic duo “IsraAlien” led by fellow Israeli guitar player Gilad Ben Zvi, this duo delves into the world of Mediterranean gypsy music and is currently touring in support of their first self-titled release “IsraAlien” ( May 2009 )
Producing and performing in “Nigunim – A Festival of New Improvised Jewish Music”, Oren put together this festival in 2009 to create a stage in Westchester NY for his music as well as other performers of this genre.

Oren has regularly performed with his quartet in NY venues like The 55 Bar, Cornelia St. Cafe and Makor to name a few, as well as touring nationally and internationally (most recently Spain, Canada and Israel). Oren was also an Artist in Residence at the 92nd St. Y (2006-2007), a participant in the Banff Centre’s international Jazz workshop (2008) and has received an Arts Alive project grant from Westchester Arts Council (2009, 2011).