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All Music Guide:
A harmonically advanced pianist and a developing arranger, Jim McNeely has had a few notable musical associations in his career. After graduating from the University of Illinois, McNeely had a stint with Ted Curson (1976-1978) and was an important member of the Mel Lewis Orchestra (1978-1984), Stan Getz's Quartet (1981-1985), and, during much of the 1990s, the Phil Woods Quintet. McNeely, who has also played with Bobby Watson, Art Farmer, Joe Henderson, and his own trios, in addition to writing for the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, has led recording sessions for SteepleChase (1976), Gatemouth, Owl, and Concord.
Jim McNeely (born May 18, 1949) is a Grammy award winning jazz pianist, composer, and arranger.
Jim was born in Chicago, Illinois. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Illinois, and moved to New York City in 1975. In 1978 he joined the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band. He spent six years as a featured soloist with that band and its successor, Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra (now The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra.) 1981 saw the beginning of Jim’s 4-year tenure as pianist/composer with the Stan Getz Quartet. From 1990 until 1995 he held the piano chair in the Phil Woods Quintet. In 1996 he re-joined the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra as pianist and composer-in-residence, a position that he still holds. From 1998 to 2003 he was chief conductor of the DR Big Band in Copenhagen, Denmark, and is currently chief conductor of the HR (Hessischer Rundfunk) Big Band in Frankfurt, Germany. He continues to appear as guest with many of Europe's leading jazz orchestras such as The Metropole Orchestra (The Netherlands) and The Stockholm Jazz Orchestra (Sweden). Jim also leads his own tentet, his own trio, and appears as soloist at concerts and festivals worldwide. He has recorded more than a dozen CDs under his own name, earning nine Grammy nominations between 1997 and 2006. In 2008, he was awarded a Grammy with the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra for their album Monday Night Live at the Village Vanguard (Planet Arts).
McNeely serves on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, William Paterson University, and is musical director of the BMI Jazz Composers Workshop.
From 2011 on McNeely will conduct the hr-Bigband, the bigband of the Hessische Rundfunk in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
He is a former resident of Montclair, New Jersey. He currently resides in Maplewood, New Jersey. He has two siblings, a younger sister and a younger brother.