Jim McNeely

College Faculty:
Professor Emeritus, Jazz Arts: Composition

Jim McNeely’s reputation as a composer/arranger and conductor for large jazz ensembles continues to flourish and has earned him nine Grammy nominations. His work includes projects with the Danish Radio Big Band (where he was chief conductor for five years), the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, the Metropole Orchestra (Netherlands), the Swiss Jazz Orchestra (Bern/Zürich), WDR Big Band (Cologne), and the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra. He is currently artist-in-residence with the HR Big Band (Frankfurt). In 1996 he rejoined the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as pianist and composer in residence. His latest album with them is Up from the Skies, on the Planet Arts label. The New York Times has called his writing “exhilarating.” DownBeat has said that his music is “eloquent enough to be profound.”

Born in Chicago, Jim McNeely moved to New York City in 1975, having received a Bachelor of Music degree in composition from the University of Illinois. In 1978 he joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra. He spent six years as a featured soloist with that band and its successor, the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra (now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra). In 1981 Jim began his four-year tenure as pianist/composer with the Stan Getz Quartet. From 1990 until 1995 he held the piano chair in the Phil Woods Quintet.

At the present time, he leads his own tentet and trio and appears as guest soloist at concerts and festivals worldwide. Jim has recorded a number of albums—trio and quartet—under his own name. He has also appeared as a sideman on numerous recordings led by major artists such as Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Stan Getz, Bob Brookmeyer, David Liebman, and Phil Woods. He is Musical Director of the BMI Jazz Composers’ Workshop.

In addition, he has appeared at numerous college jazz festivals as performer and clinician and has been involved regularly with summer workshops such as the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Clinics, the Lake Placid Seminar in Jazz Improvisation, and the William Paterson University Summer Jazz Workshop. He has also conducted clinics and had major residencies at dozens of institutions in the U.S., Canada, Europe, China, and Australia. Jim McNeely has been a member of MSM’s Jazz Arts faculty since 2008.

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