By Holli Harms

Music transports us, moves us, and goes to deep unconscious places in our bodies and mind. Ed Neumeister’s and his remarkable jazz orchestra did that and more at Birdland.

Neumeister has been in the business of creating music for over fifty years. He is an experimentalist, improviser, and composer of jazz. His show will have you tapping your feet, closing your eyes as you listen to stunning music, watching with your mouth open as Neumeister wills his trombone to speak to you, and you’ll cheer at the rise and fall of the music and the remarkable ensemble of sound. 

The orchestra is 17 multi-generational musicians and a grand piano pinched together on the small Birdland stage and is made up of both seasoned musicians playing alongside those fresh out of school. What makes the show so wonderful is that all of them are having almost as much fun as we are.

This performance marked the World Premiere of Neumeister’s NYC Assembláge Jazz Orchestra, which Neumeister describes as, “a diverse and inclusive jazz orchestra,” calling it, “Schoenberg meets Monk meets Sun Ra, with a little Lutoslawski and James Brown thrown in for spice.”

Neumeister introduces us to his composition “Delirium Inspirium ” which he began working on in 2013 when he was in the hospital with Lyme Disease and in great pain. Showers and baths relieved the pain. In the hospital shower, the sound of the ceiling fan in the bathroom dictated the inspiration for the composition. It is playful, fun, and Neumeister’s trombone solo remarkable. He pushes sound past expectations. He travels off the beaten path on the backs of technique and explores the definitions of music, and we are along for the adventure.

His composition titled “Gratitude” is a lyrical piece highlighting a drum, bass, and piano trio that had an explosive response from the audience with cheers and applause.

While staying at the same hotel in Austria at which composer Arnold Schoenberg, was a guest, Neumeister felt compelled to create a composition in Schoenberg’s honor, a 12-tone row. A 12-tone row is a “technique that ensures that all 12 notes of the chromatic scale are sounded in a piece of music… All 12 notes are thus given more or less equal importance, and the music avoids being in a key.” Like the movement of water, this creates such a wonderful sound – unpredictable and malleable.

It was a beautiful, exhilarating, and thought-provoking performance. Ed Neumeister is the Picasso of music. Testing the grounds of music and in the process creating his own unique style and sound that should not be missed. He is a treasure of the music world.

Ed Neumeister band featuring: Ben Kono, Caroline Davis, Adam Kolker, Hillai Govreen, Jason Marshall, Liesl Whitaker, Augie Haas, Diego Uroola, Freddie Hendrix, James Burton, Ron Wilkins, Deborah Weisz, Jennifer Hinkle, Pete McCann, Neil Kirkwood, Chris Tordini and Jon Wikan

Birdland Jazz Club
315 West 44th Street
$30 tables / $30 bar + $20 food/drink minimum

** Vaccination card and ID are required for admittance.