Friday, April 24, 2015

Let's Hear It For Dean McNeill

For starters, Dean McNeill is arguably the world's tallest trumpeter.  If he were to play in my big band, I would have him stand on the floor with his section mates on a riser.  But aside from his physical stature, he's also one hell of a composer, as you will hear in the pieces below.  I like how on a composition project inspired by Miles Davis' nonet, he made very thoughtful, subtle references to songs from the original Birth of the Cool recording.

Dean and I were students together at McGill during the late-1980s and we are both from the Canadian prairies.  After graduate school at UNT, Dean returned to western Canada and become a professor of music at the University of Saskatchewan.  We occasionally cross paths now when adjudicating high school bands. It is fun seeing him in the role of music educator.

Two of Dean's compositions, "What Fourth" and "Such Sweet Sadness" were included in my 04/16/2015 UConn Jazz Ensemble concert billed as "The Complete Rebirth of the Cool".  Both pieces were unique, well constructed and unquestionably worth the effort to prepare.

Let's hear it for Dean McNeill!

What Fourth:

Such Sweet Sadness:

Trivia fact: During the early 1990s Dean was the director of the Edmonton Jazz Society’s Little Birds Big Band.  By default, did that make him.... _____ ______ ?

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