By nature, jazz is closely aligned with the intuitive human spirit. Every now and again, an individual comes along with a new and improved idea to keep the genre of jazz fresh and to the point. Meet Neil Leonard, one of a new generation of cyber whiz kids who uses computers to express themselves artistically. As an added influence, Neil utilizes his skills to help weave a tale of computer based free jazz, which is augmented by his musical abilities as a saxophonist. The end result of these multi-faceted efforts is Neil Leonard's debut solo release entitled "Timaeus."
In my mind, "Timaeus" is reminiscent of the musical influences made famous by free jazz recording artists Medeski, Martin and Wood. In either case, their music makes a jazz statement that is neither traditional nor contemporary in the purest sense of the word. Neil Leonard takes music of his own design and carries it beyond the realm of normal creativity. Anytime the electronic interactions of a computer are combined with the improvisational characteristics of jazz, listeners may find that the lines of communication are not always clear. Free jazz coupled with avant-garde styling are often difficult to interpret. The effect can be mesmerizing, and in some cases chaotic. Neil Leonard uses "Timaeus" to extend the limits of the alto, soprano and tenor saxophone to a level often sought by Ornette Coleman. In fact, an opportunity arose for a preview by Coleman of the recording. Another interesting aspect that played a role in the development of Neil's release was his association with Don Byron, Jymmie Merritt, Robin Eubanks, Odean Pope, Badal Roy and Marvin "Smitty" Smith. Overall, there were numerous factors that drove the recording of "Timaeus."
This CD is spontaneous in approach, but it is not for the faint of heart. Some jazz connoisseurs may prefer the more traditional approach regarding what jazz has to offer. Risk takers who enjoy exploring the intuitive and artistic side of a musician may enjoy what Neil Leonard has to offer. Jazz in all of its flavors does not always come in a nice neatly wrapped package, but the opportunity is always available to view it from the inside out. With "Timaeus," you can see the music from a totally different perspective and draw your own conclusions.