Jazz CD Reviews
That Being Said – DePaul University Jazz Ensemble featuring Jim McNeely – Jazzed Media
Published on September 1, 2008
(Jim McNeely, pianist, with student members of the DePaul University Jazz Ensemble)
The mark of a top-flight college jazz band/ensemble is when noted jazz musicians want to record with them and not just lead workshops on campus. DePaul’s jazz ensemble meets that distinction resoundingly due to the skills of its band director, Bob Lark, who consistently mentors some of the top-flight collegiate jazz students in the country. Located in Chicago, which rates second only to New York as an incubator of young jazz talent, DePaul has had the distinction of being the place to be to foster our future jazz talent. Band director Lark is also a gifted trumpeter himself and has recorded with Phil Woods on another Jazzed Media issue. Lark knows the jazz trumpet greats and has brought Tom Harrell, Bobby Shew, Marvin Stamm, and Clark Terry to campus to inspire his collegians.
The latest soloist to record with the DePaul band is Jim McNeely, who has worked with aggregations of the ensemble since 1992. McNeely has been featured with the Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra and its successor, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, who hold court weekly at the Village Vanguard in New York as well as periodically tour the country.
What I have consistently noticed on prior recordings of the DePaul Ensemble is how hard they swing. You’d never guess that they are student musicians. On That Being Said, they pass their Finals with a solid A.
Memorable tracks include The Marriott Connection with its sax solos, McNeely’s penned Don’t Even Ask, which grabs ahold and doesn’t let up; Harry Edison and Jon Hendricks’ Centerpiece, which features band vocalist, Milton Suggs; and lastly, American premieres of McNeely’s Der Seiltanzer and Ad Parnassum, both commissioned by the Swiss Jazz Orchestra to honor painter Paul Klee.
McNeely feels so strongly about the rotating talent of the DePaul Ensemble that he works with them most every year. Professor McNeely, that has a nice ring to it….
— Jeff Krow