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It makes perfect sense that Neal Alger's jazz guitar style and compositions reflect a variety of styles and approaches. Over the years, Neal has played different kinds of music and they've continued to influence him up to this day. For example, Neal performed hard rock/heavy metal as a teenager and co-wrote nearly all of the music in his first rock band entitled Requiem.
Right before and during college, the jazz bug caught Neal and he began listening to legends like saxophonist Charlie Parker and pianist Chick Corea. While participating in Northern Illinois University's Jazz Ensemble, Neal had the privilege of sharing the stage with Clark Terry, Tito Puente, Claudio Roditi, and Jon Faddis. These artists unknowingly started Neal's love for Brazillian and Afro-Cuban music as well as straight-ahead jazz.
After graduating from NIU with a bachelors' degree in jazz guitar performance, Neal moved to Chicago and has been freelancing there ever since. Neal has performed or recorded with Lin Halliday, Howard Levy, Grazyna Augusick, Leslie Gore, Ed Thigpen, and most notably, singer/pianist Patricia Barber. Neal has toured Europe, Canada, and the U.S. with Patricia and he is featured on her Blue Note Records releases VERSE (2002), LIVE: A FORTNIGHT IN FRANCE (2004), and MYTHOLOGIES (2006). Neal also appears on recent recordings by Chicago-based musicians/groups including Nick Bisesi, Jo Ann Daugherty, BMR4, Matt Geraghty, John Goldman, and Lisa Lauren.
In addition to modern jazz, Neal's ever-expanding musical curiosity has led him to play in other groups which play styles only marginally related to jazz. Neal plays R&B/soul with singer Typhanie Monique, classic rock covers with Cast Iron Skillet, and 20th century classical music with HardArt Groop.
In the fall of 1999, Neal toured West Africa as a "Jazz Ambassador" as part of a cultural exchange program sponsored by the State Department. This experience furthered Neal's adoration of Afro-based music as well as enlightening him to the generosity and warmth of the African people. In discovering the disturbing financial situation and the lack of musical resources in West Africa, Neal organized a MusicAfrica benefit concert in May 2001 which was a resounding success. The proceeds from the concert were used to purchase items such as guitar strings, CD's, manuscript paper, and sax reeds to send over to various West African countries.
As of late, Neal has been very inspired by hip-hop and soul music and elements of these genres can be found in small part in the compositions on Neal's first CD entitled HERE AND NOW, THERE AND BEFORE. To order this CD, please select the "Buy Now" link below the cover to the left. Brand-new projects include a second duo CD with vocalist Typhanie Monique titled IN THIS ROOM and a second instumental CD due out in summer 2007.