Artist© hr/Ben Knabe
Jim McNeely was born in Chicago. In 1975 he received his B.Mus. in composition from the University of Illinois and moved to New York City.In 1978 he joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra.He spent six years with that band and its successor, Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra (now The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra).In the ‘80’s and ‘90’s he enjoyed long tenures with both the Stan Getz Quartet and the Phil Woods Quintet. In 1996 he re-joined The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as pianist and Composer-in Residence and became one of the main arrangers for the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band. Besides his long relationship with the hr-BigBand he has worked extensively with other European ensembles including the Danish Radio Big Band, the Metropole Orchestra, the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra, the Swiss Jazz Orchestra, and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw.
The New York Times has called his writing »exhilarating«; DownBeat has said that his music is »eloquent enough to be profound«.He has earned 12 Grammy nominations and won a Grammy for his work on the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra’s »Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard”. Jim has numerous albums under his own name.The latest is »Rituals«, with the hr-BigBand and Chris Potter (»…a fascinating listen, a dramatic homage of breathtaking breadth and sophistication that succeeds on every level. ✶✶✶✶✶«—DownBeat).
Teaching is also an important element of Jim’s work. He is professor emeritus in jazz composition at Manhattan School of Music. He has held positions at William Paterson University and New York University. He was also involved with the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop for 24 years, including 16 years as musical director. He has done clinics and major residencies at dozens of institutions in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan, China, Australia, New Zealand, and Egypt.