Here to There

Artist: NEON

Date of Release: 26/05/2008

Catalogue no: SRCD23-2

Label: Basho Records

Price: £5.50

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Track Listing







Chu Chu








Round the Round It All




Here to There




Spring Step




Exciting Eyes




Say No










Appearances by

Gwilym Simcock, Jim Hart, Stan Sulzmann

Neon is a new collaboration led by legendary UK saxophonist Stan Sulzmann featuring two of the hottest stars on the UK jazz scene, pianist Gwilym Simcock and vibraphonist Jim Hart. This is fresh, vibrant, exhilarating, uplifting, melodic music of the highest order played by three virtuosi. Neon's first album Here to There will be launched on Basho Records in May at St Cyprian's Church in London




02/06/2008 Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine 5 Stars *****

Jazz is notorious for its generational apartheid, with the likes of the Jazz Messengers, Earthworks and Simon Spillett’s veteran sidemen being exceptions, so it’s a genuine joy to hear this trio reminding us of how unnecessary that whole mindset is. As the instrumentation might imply, this is an album of lively but lyrical ballads, all original and of a high standard. Whether or not this is attributable to the trans-generational nature of the beast, it’s undeniable that Sulzmann avoids the over-predictable, while Hart and Simcock eschew the college-jazz inanities that are often the bane of their generation. The result is a concentrated set of pieces which manage to be both highly adventurous and listenable both musically and in terms of sound quality. If you liked Gary Burton’s work with Chick Corea, you’ll love this.


30/05/2008 Andrew Vine, The Yorkshire Post

Neon is a trio comprising saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, pianist Gwilym Simcock and vibist Jim Hart, and this debut is engaging and thoughtful. The combination of the veteran Sulzmann, a player of great heart, with his two young cohorts is a beguiling one. Simcock is a player of admirable resourcefulness and Hart’s contributions have a noticeable zest. The trio develops momentum in its performances of original material and the three-way dialogue holds the attention. Sulzmann is magisterial throughout on both tenor and soprano and his comrades are not far behind in terms of excellence.


11/05/2008 Phil Johnson, The Independent

The unusual combination of instruments – sax, piano and vibes/marimba – for this excellent new Brit-jazz trio creates a warm and attractive impression straight away, with the rhythmic attack of vibist Jim Hart and pianist Gwilym Simcock vanishing any danger of bland chamber jazz.

Tenor saxophonist Stan Sulzmann – whose seniority appears to make him the group's guiding force – sounds superbly soulful on his own "Chu Chu", a spring-heeled, New York-style groove so good you want to repeat it indefinitely. When Sulzmann plays soprano (and flute on one track), it's less compulsive, but the trio is the thing.

Pick of the Album: 'Chu Chu': Like Joe Henderson playing over Steve Reich


09/05/2008 John Fordham, The Guardian

UK saxophonist Stan Sulzmann could have lost his own musical personality in a three-decade career of showing he could play anything for anybody, at any tempo, with preparation you could write on a postage stamp. Instead, he found an authoritative voice late in the game, and became one of the British scene's real interpretative individuals. Sulzmann has succeeded with contemporary, drummerless jazz-trio music before, in the chamber-like Ordesa group with trumpet legend Kenny Wheeler and guitarist John Parricelli. But that group (inevitably, given its personnel) gave the music time and space to breathe, and this one - with full-on piano virtuoso Simcock and the equally active vibraphone star Jim Hart - often doesn't. Perhaps the group missed a trick by not deploying more of Simcock's french horn skills (beautifully explored on the overdubbed, Gil Evans-reminiscent Sweets, which also has the most evocatively slow-burning theme) to offset the preponderance of restlessly riffing piano chords and streaming melody. But the improvising, of course, is exemplary - from Sulzmann's mellow tone to Simcock's razor-sharp articulation and Hart's luminous, Burton-related vibes sound.


05/05/2008 John Kelman, All About Jazz

Institutional education is undeniably a very good thing, despite running the risk of turning out too many players with a “cook book” approach to improvisation. Still, it limits the number of emergent artists transcending such limitations, and developing individual voices as players and writers. Scottish pianist Gwilym Simcock has, since coming to jazz late in his teens, grown at a near exponential rate through associations with Bill Bruford, Tim Garland and the chamber jazz trio, Acoustic Triangle. His debut as a leader, Perception (Basho, 2007), cemented his growing reputation as one the UK jazz scene's most exciting artists to emerge in recent years. Neon is a new collective featuring Simcock alongside saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and vibraphonist Jim Hart, another newcomer whose work on Here To There suggests he's one to keep an eye on.

Sulzmann has been an integral part of the British jazz aristocracy alongside John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler and John Parricelli, despite his previous The Jigsaw (Basho, 2004) being a transatlantic affair featuring an all-American rhythm section. He contributes the lion's share of the material here, but Simcock and Hart also get to exercise their compositional chops, contributing two tracks and one, respectively, on this bright and approachable set of eight originals.

The piano/vibes combo sometimes brings to mind the duo that started it all—Chick Corea and Gary Burton—and aspects of Simcock's two-handed technique clearly come from Corea. Equally, the trio references Tim Garland's Storms/Nocturnes Trio, although Sulzmann is a player distinct from Garland, with a soprano tone redolent of John Surman and a lighter tenor sound that works especially well with Simcock's playful touch. Hart may lack the maturity and breadth of Storms/Nocturnes' Joe Locke—yet—but his experience as an orchestral percussionist dovetails nicely with Simcock, who also spent his early years in the classical sphere.

While irregular meters and more detailed compositions could overburden Here To There with superfluous complexity, it's to the trio's credit that its deft approach to the knottiest writing remains unfailingly accessible. Sulzmann's buoyant “Chu Chu” is an ear-grabbing opener, while the stops and starts of Hart's “Deviation” lead to an early high point. Sulzmann's range-encompassing tenor solo is bolstered by Simcock and Hart, who stay out of each other's way through Hart's ethereal, layered harmonies working hand-in-glove with Simock's more propulsive accompaniment.

Harmonically, Simcock's waltz-time “Spring Step” recalls Ralph Towner's recent writing for Oregon, especially with Sulzmann's soaring soprano. But the timbre of Hart's vibes—and a solo that winds its way through Simcock's change-heavy and vivacious accompaniment with ease—lends this and the entire album a sound all its own. Sulzmann's “Sweets” features overdubbed flute and French horn, for a more expansive closer that hints at a direction, perhaps, to explore more fully with Neon's next disc.

Meanwhile, Here To There is an affirming debut for Neon's individual strengths, while creating a whole that bodes well for what will hopefully be an ongoing trio and not a one-off project.


01/05/2008 Peter Bevan

A new group combining the extraordinary talents of Stan Sulzmann on saxophones and flute, Jim Hart vibes and marimba and Gwilym Simcock piano (and French horn, too, on one track). Although it's tempered with a couple of slow numbers, it's mostly lively and exhilarating, played with tremendous zip. Their forthcoming date at the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond on June 7 should be a treat


18/04/2008 Alan Brownlee, Manchester Evening News

In which piano prodigy Gwilym Simcock meets his match in Jim Hart, a vibes player of peerless virtuosity. The superhuman level of musicianship of Here To There most recalls the duet work of Chick Corea and Gary Burton, obvious role models for Simcock and Hart. Then there is the third voice of Neon: Stan Sulzmann, who was active in the Jazz Britannia era. His mature tone is magisterial and lovely (especially on soprano sax). The closer, Sweets, gilds the lily by multi-tracking Sulzmann and Simcock on their second instruments (flute, french horn). Truly, an embarrassment of riches.


08/04/2008 Chris Parker, Vortex Website

Neon is a trio comprised of saxophonist/flautist Stan Sulzmann, pianist (here also heard on french horn) Gwilym Simcock and vibes/marimba player Jim Hart, and this is their debut recording. Given their instrumentation, the trio might easily have produced a somewhat cluttered sound, but the unselfish virtuosity of Simcock and Hart (each content to play supportively percussive roles where necessary) ensures that the band's buoyancy – and where appropriate its exhilarating headlong rush – is never compromised. Sulzmann has provided five, Simcock two and Hart one of the album's eight compositions, and they range from relatively straightforward, rollicking pieces, propelled by Simcock's trademark combination of robust muscularity and elegant lyricism, and Hart's bright inventiveness, to more complex themes full of twists and turns negotiated with aplomb by all three players. Sulzmann's tenor – full-bodied, sinewy, distinctive and personal – and his dancing but incisive soprano combine with piano and vibes to produce music of considerable textural sophistication, but the overall impression left by the album is actually one of serious fun (the best sort) – all three participants clearly revel in their bandmates' (frequently dazzling) imagination and skill, and their enjoyment is irresistibly infectious. Another fine album from Basho.


01/04/2008 Jazzwise - Brian Glasser

Apparently Sulzmann was once accused of lacking warmth in his playing but it's an unimaginable accusation these days. This album bursts with life-affirming vitality, much of which comes from the expressive phrasing and gorgeous tone of Sulzmann's playing, not to mention his compositions that are an open invitation to interaction. The relative youngsters, but no junior partners, Hart and Simcock need no second bidding, delivering both telling solos and sympathetic accompaniment. Of course, the near-Pavlovian response to hearing vibes and piano in close proximity is "Corea and Burton", but even before adding the leader's sax this record is cut from very different timber: more funky and good-natured, and less cerebral - the opening track ('Chu Chu') is a real rouser, and it doesn't stand alone. Certainly the man who grew up on Coltrane now seems to be more closely aligned with the lyricism of late-period Shorter.


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