Jazz CD Reviews

Adam Niewood & His Rebel Rousers – Epic Journey Volumes I & II – Innova 708 (2 discs)

A release of huge significance: Please, don’t let it sink out of sight.

Published on September 20, 2008

Adam Niewood & His Rebel Rousers – Epic Journey Volumes I & II – Innova 708 (2 discs)

Adam Niewood & His Rebel Rousers – Epic Journey Volumes I & II – Innova 708 (2 CDs), 63:56 and 54:14 *****:

(Adam Niewood – tenor, C-melody, soprano, alto, & baritone saxes, clarinet & bass clarinet; Jesse Lewis – guitar; Kristian Randalu – piano, Fender Rhodes; Matt Brewer – electric bass; Chris Higgins – acoustic bass; Rohin Khemani – drums, cymbals, djembe, dumbek, frame drum, elephant bells, Tibetan bowl, African rattles, shakers; Greg Ritchie – drums, cymbals)

Adam Niewood reminds me a lot of Dave Binney, evoking almost exactly the same wacky sensibility on “Where’s the Cat???” with its long, loping melodic figures and Rhodes-inspired friendly-eccentricity, as Binney does on any of his recent estimable discs: one of the coolest moves on the planet.  But he takes it one step beyond.

Listen: this is huge.  Adam Niewood is carving out an important—nay, essential—niche in early new millennium jazz: hip, eclectic, worldly, rockish, conversant with the widest possible influences, combining the most unlikely, but, once heard, inevitable vibes—flamboyant Rhodes, trancelike guitar, bari sax, wildly worldly percussion—into some ancient/modern, previously unheard/entirely accessible musical gallimaufry that will fry your synapses.

This a disc that refuses to eject itself from my musical rotation, hanging with—even trumping—the ultimate jazz big daddies: all those recent transcendent ECM offerings; Joe Lovano making some righteous music with the Stryker/Slagle Band; Elio Villafranca busting out of the starting blocks with the Nu Cuban jazz, whatever: This is it.

Comprising two discs, one mainly composed, one almost entirely spur-of-the-moment collective improv, Epic Journeys Volume I & II lays out a quantum leap forward not only for this up-and-coming multi-wind wizard and way-smart composer, but for slinky/skanky too-smart 21st century jazz.  Essential.

Tracklist (Vol. I)
Demented Lullaby
Ella Bella
Not Quite Right
Electoral College
Where’s the Cat???
Out of the Woods, for Now . . .
Mellow Drama
Child Psychology

TrackList (Vol. II)
Entirely Too Tonal
Movin’ & Groovin’
Loved Ones
Calm Before the Storm
A Rap Tap Tap in the Night
First Sign of Clarity
Breaking and Entering
Five Corridors

– Jan P. Dennis

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