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He has written arrangements for such notable performers as Count Basie, Buddy Rich, Ray Charles and The Beach Boys. In addition to his prolific career as a performer and composer, he is an active music educator not only in and around the Los Angeles area, but at venues across the country, including the annual Reggie Schive Jazz Camp at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa., He is the principal director of Buddy Collette's JazzAmerica, a non-profit organization now run by bassist Richard Simon, that provides free jazz education to young players. He is also a mentor for the L. A. Jazz Society in its jazz mentorship program for teenagers.
Neumann was born in 1941 in Minot, North Dakota, lived for a short while in Akron, Ohio, but moved to Spencer, Iowa at age 5. He began studying soprano saxophone at a young age, under the tutelage of his father, Hugo Neumann—a professional trombone and saxophone player. In junior high, Roger switched to tenor saxophone, his main instrument to this day. The younger Neumann began playing professionally in the surrounding Northwest Iowa area while still in high school, before becoming a music major at Morningside College in Sioux City. While in high school and college he played and wrote arrangements for the Billy Redman Band, a 10-piece territory band. He spent many hours in jam sessions in the after-hours jazz clubs in Sioux City during the late 1950s and early 60s. After graduation from Morningside, Neumann toured with the Jack Gillespie Band from Minneapolis, and then joined the Lee Castle/Jimmy Dorsey Band, before becoming the public school band director in Guthrie Center, Ia. for 2 1⁄2 years.
Berklee School of Music
In 1965, Neumann enrolled at the Berklee School of Music. After two years at Berklee, Neumann was offered a job by Woody Herman to join Herman's Thundering Herd, with whom he toured for the balance of that year. Neumann is heard with that edition of the Herman band on the 1967 recording "Concerto For Herd," recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, soloing on "Big Sur Echo."
Los Angeles career
After moving to the Los Angeles area in the spring of 1968, Neumann worked with a progression of outstanding groups, including the Bob Crosby Band, Les Brown & The Band Of Renown,Benny Carter, Ray Anthony, Tex Beneke, the Bill Elliot Swing Orchestra, and with jazz singing legend Anita O'Day.
Rather Large Band
In 1975, he formed his own group, "Roger Neumann's Rather Large Band," consisting of the cream of the crop of West Coast jazz musicians. The band won immediate critical acclaim for two albums on the SeaBreeze Label, — Introducing Roger Neumann's Rather Large Band (1983) and Instant Heat (1994). Against all odds, both albums enjoyed a modicum of commercial success at a time when interest in big band jazz was on the wane—a tribute to Neumann's composition and arranging genius. Neumann's hard-driving arrangements for the Rather Large Band were executed by such veteran sidemen as Herman Riley, Bob Enevoldsen, Bob Hardaway, Herbie Harper and John Heard.
Neumann has also played baritone sax and contributed arrangements for the uniquely refreshing Phil Norman Tentet, which has recorded several CDs. He has appeared on screen in several movies, including La Bamba starring Lou Diamond Phillips as '50s rock star Ritchie Valens. In recent years Neumann has done more small group jazz playing, appearing regularly in several of the well-known jazz clubs in the L. A. area.
In 2002, Neumann won the LA Jazz Society's Award as Jazz Arranger of the Year.
Neumann is married to singer Madeline Vergari. His "Rather Large Band" backed her on her own CD, entitled "This Is My Lucky Day!"
- "Roger Neumann", Iowa Lakes University of Okoboji Reggie Schive Summer Jazz Camp, https://web.archive.org/web/20070702130812/http://www.iowalakes.edu/faculty/ayres/Roger%20Neumann.htm, 03 September 2010
- "Neumann's Path of Jazz". The Daily Reporter. November 8, 2003. Retrieved 2012-02-22.
- "Music That Swings: Writer-saxophonist Roger Neumann's acoustic, mainstream jazz-rooted Rather Large Band will appear Tuesday.". LA Times. March 26, 1993. Retrieved 2012-02-22.