Take Five With Neil Alexander

Take Five With Neil Alexander
By Published: | 4,311 views
Meet Neil Alexander: Jazz musician Neil Alexander was performing, composing and arranging by age 14. In 2007 he released Tugging At The Infinite, his fourth CD with his contemporary electric/acoustic jazz ensemble NAIL.

As well as managing his own electric and acoustic ensembles, he does sessions as both player and programmer, and works with a variety of Modern Dance and Experimental Theater companies. He has received grants from Meet The Composer & the NYSCA; performed works by Stravinsky, Ives, & Cage (among others); taught clinics at both high school and college level in music technology; produced small venue and large outdoor concerts; and done sound design and music concrete. Neil has composed over 200 works for small ensembles. In addition to NAIL he performs solo, and is involved with several different ensembles including the Mahavishnu Project. Neil and his group NAIL are members of Chamber Music America, and are involved in educational programs on both the High School and College Level.

Instrument(s):

Piano, synthesizers, keyboards, drums.

Teachers and/or influences? Primarily self-taught. As a kid, studied with pianist Bill Printz. One lesson with JoAnne Brackeen
JoAnne Brackeen
JoAnne Brackeen
b.1938
piano
; another one with Andy LaVerne
Andy LaVerne
Andy LaVerne
b.1947
piano
.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when... Funny, but when I heard Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon. The idea of creating worlds of sound was very appealing to me, as was the idea of a larger keyboard rig. You know—more then just the piano.

Your sound and approach to music: I am dedicated to honoring all my influences—that results in a wide ranging sound, including elements of ambient music, modern classical, post-bop, progressive rock and high energy jazz fusion. My approach is to combine all these elements into something new, a sort of musical alchemy.

Your teaching approach: Every student is treated individually. There are certain things you'll need to know, but I follow their lead in terms of what their interests are.

Your dream band:

Currently, if I could choose from among everyone on the scene today, I'd probably start with drummer Dennis Chambers
Dennis Chambers
Dennis Chambers
b.1959
drums
and bassist Victor Bailey
Victor Bailey
Victor Bailey
b.1960
bass, electric
. The list of whom I'd really like to, and in fact intend, to work with is quite long, and come from all styles of music:

Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
b.1933
saxophone
; John Scofield
John Scofield
John Scofield
b.1951
guitar
; John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin
b.1942
guitar
; Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
b.1942
drums
; Ray Gomez; Billy Cobham
Billy Cobham
Billy Cobham
b.1944
drums
; Jan Hammer
Jan Hammer
Jan Hammer
b.1948
composer/conductor
; Jerry Goodman; Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth
Allan Holdsworth
b.1948
guitar
; Victor Bailey; Dennis Chambers; Omar Hakim
Omar Hakim
Omar Hakim
b.1959
drums
; Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
;Dave Holland
Dave Holland
Dave Holland
b.1946
bass
; Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
; Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
;Brian Eno
Brian Eno
Brian Eno
b.1948
author
; Christian McBride
Christian McBride
Christian McBride
b.1972
bass
; Vernon Reid
Vernon Reid
Vernon Reid
b.1958
guitar
; DJ Logic;Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell
b.1943
vocalist
; Squarepusher; Beck; Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck
Jeff Beck
b.1944
guitar
; Victor Wooten
Victor Wooten
Victor Wooten
b.1964
bass
;Imogen Heap; Björk David Bowie; Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
Jan Garbarek
b.1947
sax, tenor
; Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
; Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
Stevie Wonder
b.1950
keyboard
;Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp
Robert Fripp
b.1946
guitar
; Adrian Belew
Adrian Belew
Adrian Belew
b.1949
guitar
; Paco Sery; Richard Bona
Richard Bona
Richard Bona
b.1967
bass, electric
; Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
Vinnie Colaiuta
b.1956
drums
; Narada Michael Walden
Narada Michael Walden
Narada Michael Walden
b.1952
drums
; Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana
Carlos Santana
b.1947
guitar
; David Byrne; Marc Johnson
Marc Johnson
Marc Johnson
b.1953
bass
; Eddie Gomez
Eddie Gomez
Eddie Gomez
b.1944
bass
; Joe Satriani; Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
Peter Erskine
b.1954
drums
; Terry Bozzio
Terry Bozzio
Terry Bozzio
b.1950
drums
; Jon Christensen
Jon Christensen
Jon Christensen
b.1943
drums
; Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
Stanley Clarke
b.1951
bass
; Richard Thompson; Peter Gabriel; Scott Henderson; Trilok Gurtu
Trilok Gurtu
Trilok Gurtu
b.1951
tablas
; Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
Charlie Haden
1937 - 2014
bass, acoustic
; Medeski, Martin & Wood
Medeski, Martin & Wood
Medeski, Martin & Wood

band/orchestra
; Eberhard Weber
Eberhard Weber
Eberhard Weber
b.1940
bass
; Zakir Hussain
Zakir Hussain
Zakir Hussain
b.1951
percussion
; Mark Egan
Mark Egan
Mark Egan
b.1951
bass
.

Favorite venue:

After many years on the road, my favorite venue has emerged: The Keswick Theater in Glenside PA. Awesome crew, beautiful facility and kick-ass catering. :)

The first Jazz album I bought was: Deodato's first album, Prelude. Got me into arranging.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically? Me? I don't claim to be contributing anything important, but I would say I am bringing the synthesizer into traditional jazz; expanding the sonic vocabulary and stirring the style stew, looking for new flavors.

What are some of the essential requirements to keep jazz alive and growing? Embrace new ideas. And also...embrace new ideas. Jazz needs to evolve to survive. Allow it.

What is in the near future? Oh gosh, so many things: 1) Solo piano CD (3??);
2) New quartet;
3) Best of NAIL: Live & unreleased trax;
3) Electronica CD & remixes;
4) Arranging major orchestral work for jazz octet;
5) Become a certified Ableton trainer;
6) Mahavishnu Project—new recordings/tour dates.

By Day:

Dance accompanist at SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance.

If I weren't a jazz musician, I would be a: ..a rock musician...?


Photo Credit

Courtesy of Neil Alexander

comments powered by Disqus
Sponsor: Summit Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

or search site with Google