Jim McNeely

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Jim McNeely
Background information
Born (1949-05-18) May 18, 1949 (age 74)
Chicago, Illinois, US
Occupation(s)Composer, arranger, conductor, musician, faculty
Years active1975–present

Jim McNeely (born May 18, 1949) is a jazz pianist, composer, arranger and faculty.


Jim McNeely 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 was the pianist 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 2002, McNeely was chief conductor of the DR Big Band in Copenhagen, Denmark.[1] As of 2011, he was chief conductor of the HR (Hessischer Rundfunk) Big Band in Frankfurt, Germany. He is currently their Composer-in-Residence. He has appeared as guest with many of Europe's leading jazz orchestras such as the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw (the Netherlands), the WDR Big Band (Cologne, Germany), the Stockholm Jazz Orchestra (Sweden) and the Swiss Jazz Orchestra. McNeely 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, receiving twelve Grammy nominations between 1997 and 2019.

As part of the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, he received a Grammy Award for the album Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard in 2008.[2][3]

McNeely is professor emeritus at Manhattan School of Music,[4] and is former musical director of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop.

A former resident of Montclair, New Jersey,[5] and Maplewood, New Jersey he now resides in Owls Head, Maine .

Selected discography[edit]

As leader

  • Rain's Dance, (SteepleChase, 1976)
  • The Plot Thickens, (Muse, 1979)
  • 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) – recorded in 1998
  • Group Therapy (Jim McNeely Tentet), (OmniTone, 2001)
  • The Power and the Glory: A salute to Louis Armstrong (w/Danish Radio Big Band, feat. Leroy Jones), (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) – recorded in 2002
  • 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 (w/Dave Douglas & Frankfurt Radio Big Band), (Greenleaf, 2009)
  • Quest for Freedom (w/David Liebman, Richie Beirach & Frankfurt Radio Big Band), (Sunnyside, 2010)
  • Barefoot Dances and Other Visions (w/Frankfurt Radio Big Band), (Planet Arts, 2018)
  • Rituals (Frankfurt Radio Big Band and Chris Potter), (Double Moon Records, 2022)
  • Threnody (Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw), (Challenge Records, 2022)

With Ted Curson

With Stan Getz

With Mel Lewis

  • Mellifluous (Gatemouth, 1981)
  • With Phil Woods."Flowers fort Hodges". (1991)


  1. ^ Iben Have; Charlotte Rordam Larsen; Anja Molle Lindelof; Morten Michelsen; Henrik Smith-Sivertsen, eds. (2018). Stil Nu Ind: Danmarks Radio Og Musikken (in Danish). Aarhus Universitetsforlag. p. 235.
  2. ^ "Grammy Award Results for Jim McNeely". grammy.com. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  3. ^ "2008 Grammy Winners". grammy.com. Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  4. ^ "Faculty: Jim McNeely". Manhattan School of Music. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  5. ^ 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 McNeely, of Montclair, has been nominated for best instrumental arrangement for an album by Renee Rosnes and the Danish Radio Big Band."

External links[edit]