Rating 4 Stars
In his career thus far, Scott Neumann has played drums with a wide variety of artists including Woody Herman’s orchestra, Jack McDuff, Joshua Redman, Maria Schneider’s orchestra and rock, blues and jam band groups. His earliest interest was in rock and fusion, an area of music that he returns to on Scott Neumann and Osage County. With the excellent soprano-saxophonist Sam Newsome often functioning as the lead voice, Neumann’s quartet (which has one guest appearance apiece from guitarist Tony Scherr and percussionist Memo Acevedo) is at times a little reminiscent of Weather Report, though keyboardist David Berkman does not closely emulate Joe Zawinul. The funky grooves avoid being predictable, some of the originals are tricky to play (such as the 15/4 “Meserole”) and yet the set as a whole, even at its most introspective, is accessible. Some of the optimism and enormous potential of early-’70s fusion is felt throughout Osage County. The close attention paid to mood and groove variations, the high musicianship, the colorful ensembles and the strong solos make this a very successful effort. –Scott Yanow
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