Born: April 16, 1982 Primary Instrument: Piano
Over the past four years, Michael McNeill has become an integral part of the thriving creative music scene in Buffalo. His imaginative piano playing has found a home alongside jazz players ranging from Maynard Ferguson- alumnus Bruce Johnstone (on Kelly Bucheger’s House of Relics) to local underground hero Steve Baczkowski, and he has developed a personal voice on the harmonium in crossover ensembles led by percussionist Ravi Padmanabha. McNeill performs composed music with the Wooden Cities New Music Collective, co- leads a jazz quintet with the polymath drummer John Bacon, and has collaborated with trumpet legend Paul Smoker on projects of standards and of original compositions. McNeill composes for, plays in, and facilitates the New Buffalo Jazz Octet, “a veritable who’s who list of killer regional jazz players” (The Buffalo News).
Passageways, McNeill’s debut CD as a leader, features renowned improvisers Ken Filiano (bass) and Phil Haynes (drums).
Recent performances of note include a chamber music performance with virtuoso bass trombonist David Taylor; a New York City performance with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Phil Haynes; a live film score with the New Buffalo Jazz Octet; and continuing, fruitful small-group collaborations with Dave Arenius, John Bacon, T.J. Borden, Kelly Bucheger, Tim Clarke, Andrew Drury, Ken Filiano, Esin Gündüz, Matt Honor, Charlie Kohlhase, Ron LoCurto, Ravi Padmanabha, and others too numerous to mention here.
“I often despair of my inability to sort out the vast wave of piano trios that come my way, but sometimes I'm caught by surprise — just rarely by someone I've never heard of before. First clue here is the bassist, who never plays on uninteresting albums. Filiano kicks off the 20:34 opener — that length another sign that something is up here — but when the pianist takes over he darts in and out, never settling for something ordinary… A- ” — Tom Hull
“With Passageways McNeill has burst on the modern music scene as an exciting and ingenious composer and improviser. His more seasoned associates, far from overshadowing him, enhance his singular vision. Hopefully this gem of a disc will serve as an introduction to a luminous career.” — Hrayr Attarian, AllAboutJazz.com
“Michael McNeill's debut as a leader introduces a fresh perspective to the popular piano trio format. His compositions don't progress in a linear manner, nor do they strive to settle on time-tested harmonic or rhythmic structures; instead, they insistently explore the sonic possibilities within the immediate, fragile and equal interplay that the Buffalo, NY-based pianist-composer has with his improvisation-experienced trio mates, double bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Phil Haynes… McNeill is an exceptional composer and player, with a debut that sets a high standard for those yet to come.” — Eyal Hareuveni, AllAboutJazz.com
“The McNeill Trio plays high-level improvisational music, built around strong compositions and sturdy motifs… His extended solo during album- opener ‘Hold On’ offers a master- class in musical storytelling, and his improvised prelude to ‘Metropolis’ is both playful and haunting.” - Jeff Miers, Buffalo News
“I think some of the most creative music that’s happening right now in the country is the new jazz - Ken Vandermark, Joe McPhee, Paul Smoker. I think Mike McNeill, a young, local jazz pianist, is going to be a star.” - Tom Kohn (concert producer, owner of The Bop Shop), in an interview with Ron Netsky, City Newspaper (Rochester)
Michael McNeill, piano and compositions
Ken Filiano, bass
Phil Haynes, drums
Recorded December 11, 2010
Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY
Also available on iTunes
As a sideperson:
Kelly Bucheger: House of
Kelly Bucheger, saxophones & compositions
Tim Clarke, trumpet and flugelhorn
Michael McNeill, piano
Danny Ziemann, bass
Russ Algera, drums
& special guest Bruce Johnstone, baritone saxophone
Recorded July and October, 2011
Ravi Padmanabha Trio
Ravi Padmanabha, percussion & compositions
Ron LoCurto, acoustic guitar
Michael McNeill, harmonium
Recorded November/December 2010
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Willing to teach:
I've taught piano lessons since 2000 to students ranging in age from 5 to 83. I hold Bachelor's and Master's degrees in music. I currently teach at Pro Music Center in Clarence, NY, and have taught piano (primarily under the course heading "Jazz Keyboard Skills") at Villa Maria College since Fall 2012.