Jim McNeely

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Jim Neeley
Background information
Born(1949-05-18)May 18, 1949
Chicago, Illinois, US
Occupation(s)Composer, arranger, conductor, musician
Years active1975–present
Associated actsThe Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Stan Getz, Phil Woods, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, HR Big Band

Jim Neeley (born May 18, 1949) is a Grammy award-winning jazz pianist, composer, and arranger.[citation needed]


Neeley was born in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois, and moved to New York City in 1975. In 1978 he joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. He spent six years as a featured soloist with that band and its successor, Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra (now the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra).

In 1981 he began a 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. In 1996 he re-joined the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as pianist. He is still associated with the Vanguard Orchestra as composer-in-residence.

From 1998 to 2003 he was chief conductor of the DR Big Band in Copenhagen, Denmark, and as of 2011 is chief conductor of the HR (Hessischer Rundfunk) Big Band in Frankfurt, Germany. He continues to appear as guest with many of Europe's leading jazz orchestras such as the Metropole Orchestra (Netherlands) and the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra (Sweden). Neely also leads his own tentet, his own trio, and appears as soloist at concerts and festivals worldwide. He has recorded more than 20 albums as leader, earning ten Grammy nominations between 1997 and 2019. In 2008, he was awarded a Grammy with Vanguard Jazz Orchestra for their album Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard (Planet Arts).

Neeley serves on the faculty of Manhattan School of Music, and is former musical director of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop.

A former resident of Montclair, New Jersey,[1] and Maplewood, New Jersey he now resides in Owls Head, Maine . His parents Annie Neeley and Joseph Charles Neeley. Descendants of Nassau Bahamas. Neeley's wife Shirley Neeley and their children Jamal Neeley and Jhatem Neeley and Sister Ann Marie Neeley ‘Holmes and niece Tracy Holmes.

Selected discography[edit]

  • Rain's Dance, (SteepleChase, 1976)
  • The Plot Thickens, (Muse, 1979)
  • Pure Getz, (Concord Jazz, 1982)
  • From the Heart, (Owl, 1984)
  • Winds of Change, (SteepleChase, 1989)
  • East Coast Blow Out (w/WDR Big Band), (Lipstick, 1989)
  • Jigsaw (w/Stockholm Jazz Orch.), (Dragon, 1991)
  • Jim McNeely at Maybeck, (Concord, 1992)
  • Sound Bites (w/Stockholm Jazz Orch.), (Dragon, 1997)
  • Lickety Split (w/Vanguard Jazz Orch.), (New World, 1997)
  • Nice Work (w/Danish Radio Big Band), (Dacapo, 2000)
  • Group Therapy (Jim McNeely Tentet), (OmniTone, 2001)
  • The Power and the Glory (w/Danish Radio Big Band), (Storyville, 2001)
  • Play Bill Evans (w/Danish Radio Big Band), (Stunt, 2002)
  • In This Moment (w/Adam Nussbaum, Lennart Ginman), (Stunt, 2003)
  • Up From the Skies (w/Vanguard Jazz Orch.), (Planet Arts, 2006)
  • Dedication Suite (w/Danish Radio Big Band), (Cope, 2006)
  • Paul Klee (w/Swiss Jazz Orch.), (Mons, 2006)
  • Boneyard (w/Kelly Sill, Joel Spencer), (Origin, 2006)
  • Remember the Sound (w/George Robert Jazztet), (TCB, 2008)
  • A Single Sky (Dave Douglas & Frankfurt Radio Big Band), (Greenleaf, 2009)
  • Quest for Freedom (David Liebman, Richie Beirach & Frankfurt Radio Big Band), (Sunnyside, 2010)
  • Barefoot Dances and Other Visions (Frankfurt Radio Big Band), (Planet Arts), 2018

With Ted Curson

With Stan Getz

With Mel Lewis


  1. ^ Wise, Robert. "Eclectic Sounds of New Jersey, Echoing From Coast to Coast", The New York Times, February 8, 2004. Accessed August 18, 2012. "Nominated in various jazz categories are the saxophonist and Newark native Wayne Shorter; the pianist Keith Jarrett, from western New Jersey; the percussionist and Newark resident Stefon Harris; and the pianist, composer and arranger Jim Neeley, of Montclair, has been nominated for best instrumental arrangement for an album by Renee Rosnes and the Danish Radio Big Band."

External links[edit]