Primary Instrument: Trumpet
John McNeil is regarded as one of the most original and creative jazz artists in the world today. For nearly three decades John has toured with his own groups and has received widespread acclaim as both a player and composer. His highly personal trumpet style communicates across the full range of contemporary jazz, and his compositions combine harmonic freedom with melodic accessibility. John's restless experimentation has kept him on the cutting edge of new music.
His background includes the Horace Silver Quintet, Gerry Mulligan, and the Thad Jones/ Mel Lewis Orchestra. John is equally at home in free and structured settings, and this versatility has put him on stage with artists from Slide Hampton to John Abercrombie.
John McNeil was born in 1948 in northern California. Due to a lack of available musical instruction in his home town of Yreka, John largely taught himself to play trumpet and read music. By the time he graduated from high school in 1966, John had already begun playing professionally in the northern California region.
John moved to New York in the mid-1970's and began a freelance career. His reputation as an innovative trumpet voice began to grow as he played with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, and led his own groups at clubs such as Boomer's, the legendary Village jazz room.
In the late 70's, John joined the Horace Silver Quintet. Around the same time, he began recording for the SteepleChase label under his own name and toured internationally.
Although he has worked as a sideman with such luminaries as Gerry Mulligan, John has consistently led his own groups from about 1980 to the present. He has recorded numerous albums that have met with excellent reviews, and continues to record with similar acclaim.
In the 1990's, John became increasingly in demand as a writer, arranger, and record producer. He continues these activities in addition to his usual schedule of live performance.
McNeil's solos were by and large the most incisive features of the night. --London Daily Mail
John McNeil's music is not a dim echo of someone else. He thinks for himself. --Milwaukee Journal
Mr. McNeil's trumpet work is full and rich with a bright, clear tone. His improvisations showed a sensitivity and lushness few can match. --Kansas City Star
...a balance of understatement and uninhibited swinging. --Washington Post
...his refusal to fall back on prefabricated hip licks was another sign of his commitment to emotional truth. --Chicago Tribune
...as soon as he put mouth to horn, his talent was evident.... [He has] a generous supply of fresh and original ideas... adventuresome without being self-indulgent. --St. Paul Pioneer Press-Dispatch