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), MYTHOLOGIES (2006), and THE COLE PORTER MIX (2008). Neal has also appeared on recordings by Chicago-based musicians/groups including Nick Bisesi, Jo Ann Daugherty, BMR4, Matt Geraghty, Sharay Reed, and Steve Hashimoto.
In addition to modern jazz, Neal's ever-expanding musical curiosity has led him to play in other groups which play styles marginally related to jazz. Neal plays R&B fusion with keyboardist/singer William Kurk, rock/pop movie soundtracks with Androgynous Mustache, sophisticated pop with Steely Dan cover band Bad Sneakers Orchestra and classic rock covers with Cast Iron Skillet.
While Neal currently has sufficient original music for a new jazz CD, his focus for 2013 is on his new rock power trio NEEDLES IN THE RED. For the first time, Neal will be singing, playing guitar, and composing both music and lyrics in an exciting group rounded out by bassist Dan Thatcher and drummer Eric Montzka. See the 'SCHEDULE' page for upcoming shows and be on the lookout for audio clips of NEEDLES in February 2013. In the words of Spinal Tap frontman David St. Hubbins: "We hope you enjoy our new direction!".
While performing with singer/guitarist Luciano Antonio in Chicago since 2011, Neal's love of Brazilian music has been rekindled and he has undertaken a massive research project to familiarize himself with the many styles of Brazilian music beyond the well-known samba and bossa nova: afoxe, frevo, baiao, maracatu, choro, and others. Luciano is a very talented performer and songwriter and with him, Neal performs Luciano's original compositions and Brazilian popular music covers from time to time.
Over the years, 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. Since 2003, Neal has co-led a unique jazz duo with vocalist Typhanie Monique and together they have released three critically-acclaimed CD's: INTRINSIC (2004), IN THIS ROOM (2007), and YULETIDE GROOVE (2008). Typhanie and Neal continue to occasionally perform together in and around Chicago.