Epic Journey Volumes I & II
Niewood is the son of the late Gerry Niewood and has previously recorded one other CD as a leader. This 118 minute double CD set features a crew of young NYC-based musicians performing in a wide variety of post-bop styles, with Niewood playing five different types of saxophones and clarinet and bass clarinet. The musicians make use of timbral variety by alternating between electric and acoustic bass, piano and Rhodes, various forms of percussion, and guitar. All tunes were either composed by Niewood or collectively improvised.
The group name is well chosen; this is not a recording for those who don’t like to hear musicians using their chops. The musicians easily establish themselves as professionals in this regard, and Niewood and guitarist Jesse Lewis are especially aggressive soloists. There is a relatively high amount of variety in the music, some tunes are reminiscent of Jan Garbarek’s less pastoral 70’s work, some of the first edition of Weather Report with guitar shredding added to the ingredients, and there are other stylistic variations as well.
This package might have been better reduced as one CD; few will want to hear both discs back to back. Nonetheless, Niewood’s group is to be credited for producing two CDs worth of original, varied, chops-required, hard core jazz music.