Darn That Dream: Solo Piano Vol. 1
Review by Brent Black, CriticalJazz.com
Much like some people met as you walk through life, some have to grow on you
and music is no different.
Neil Alexander's Darn That Dream Volume 1 with two versions of the classic Van
Heusen/DeLange song gave me the impression that Alexander was attempting to
play it safe with multiple reharms of the same tune and I was expecting the rest
of the set list to consist of the typical cast of characters including Cole Porter,
George Gershwin and perhaps a touch of Monk thrown in for flavor. I was
pleasantly surprised that only four of the eleven tunes were covers and not the
standard bill of fare piano aficionados had come to expect.
Solo piano may be the most difficult format to master on a consistent basis and
Alexander has mad skills and proves he is well on his way to being a force to be
taken more than seriously in this idiom. While of course Darn That Dream is
spot on one of the most interesting covers is that of the Pat Metheny tune
Sirabhorn. Metheny is not known for keeping things on the straight and narrow.
Alexander follows the lead of Metheny and conducts his own harmonic riff on
what is considered by many professionals as a less than a melodic walk in the
park. Whisper of Angels is an intimate ballad whose inspiration is derived from
Alexander bring his wife and new born home from the hospital. No where does
Alexander let up in intensity be it ballad or a blues infused number with a splash
of swing added such as Blues For Martha.
Perhaps the one thing that sells me on this release the most is thinking back to a
conversation I had about a year ago with guitarist Roni Ben-Hur who bristles at
the phrase sounds like. Granted as a frame of reference for new artists then we
may have something to work with but Alexander establishes his own voice and is
clearly taken the artistic road less traveled by many piano players/ Volume 2 is
scheduled for release in 2014 and if Alexander stays true to his artistic sense of
self while working the solo piano format his growth as an artist should be
The depth of flavor, variety and lyrical sense of adventure all allow this release to
sound better with each subsequent spin of the disc.
Impressive. 4 Stars.
Neil Alexander & NAIL
Tugging At The Infinite
CD Review From Roll Magazine, April 2008
Proudly proclaiming that there is “No electric guitar on this
record”, Neil Alexander strikes a blow for keyboardists
everywhere, armed with a rack of synth modules and his
trusty hand held controller. With prodigious chops, chordal
vocabulary and supple support from local jazz favorites
Charlie Kniceley, T Xiques, and Nadav Snir-Zelniker, among
others, Alexander’s instrumentals cover considerable ground
between 70’s Jeff Beck, Bitches Brew-style jazz jam and
John Carpenter movie soundtracks. Plus the inevitable guitar-
sound-on-a-keyboard thing. www.nailmusic.com.
Primary Instrument: Keyboard
Location: Newburgh, NY
Willing to teach:
Intermediate to advanced students
Private instruction in Jazz Piano, Synthesizer Programming, Music Software,
Looping, etc. Late afternoons prefered; $70 per hour.
Lec/Dems in Technology for Musical performance; Improvisation
Clinics; Master Classes in group performance, music
technology. Ableton LIVE a specialty.
Yamaha Grand Piano; Many Synthesizers:
Moog Voyager (Endorsed by Moog Music);
Korg Wavestation/WavestationR; O/5RW;
Nord Electro 3;
Novation A Station;
Oberhiem Matrix 1000,
Custom pedal boards (2);
Roland AX7 Remote Keyboard;
Fender Rhodes Stage 73; Akai S5000 sampler;
Mac Book Pro running Ableton LIVE, Kontakt, Digital Performer, etc;
Custom Speaker Cabinets (3).