Young pianist Ben Neumann arrives on the scene with a stirring and surprisingly assured debut. Paying tribute to pianists like Horace Silver ("Peace"), Oscar Levant (the lovely ballad "Blame it on My Youth") and Herbie Hancock ("Riot") the grad student at the U. of Chicago (in philosophy, no less!) announces that his intellect isn't limited to the study of Plato. In fact, Neuman has studied piano with people like the legendary Dr. Billy Taylor and he has some major chops. Backed by one of Chicago's finest rhythm sections - Dennis Carroll on bass and George Fludas on drums, he takes on Coltrane's "26-2" right off the bat and - amazingly enough - the young man is more than ready for the task - coming up with a splendid version of this difficult number. A satisfying version of "I Fall in Love Too Easily" follows and his mature keyboard work shows why this young player is becoming a force on the local scene. As to be expected, the band interplay is first rate and the clear and warm recording captures the nuances of the players very well. A fiery original "M.J.D." makes one hope we will hear more original compositions from Neuman, and he is equally at home with playing a straight-ahead piece like "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" at ballad pace or deconstructing it as he does with his spicy version of "You the Night and Music." An enjoyable trio outing and great introduction to a pianist whom I'm sure will be making his mark for years to come.