Neal Alger guitar, lead vocals | Eric Montzka drums | Zoey Smulewitz guitar | Dan Thatcher bass
Headed by Neal Alger, who's known in Chicago music circles primarily for his jazz guitar work, Needles in the Red is a vibrant new project that melds the visceral nature of rock with some of the harmonic sophistication of jazz. Add some thoughtful lyrics and a few of the most versatile musicians in the city and you have the power quartet Needles in the Red. Alger and drummer Eric Montzka of Needles have toured the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Brazil performing jazz together but this project represents a return to their musical roots of rock and pop. Bassist Dan Thatcher has been involved with bands such as Diana and the Dishes and curates the Eyes and Ears Music Series in Wicker Park. The newest addition to Needles is lead/rhythm guitarist Zoey Witz who has led bands that have shared the stage with Foreigner, Poison, Travis Tritt, and the Spinners.
NEEDLES IN THE RED is a fresh and unique rock experience, a flexible outfit that can traverse jazz fusion and pop sensibilities within one song. The music is sophisticated and rich yet accessible and rootsy. Neal's vocal stylings owe no small amount to R&B/Soul music and Zoey's lyrical guitar musings take some country with them but the end result is an appealing eclectic mix that doesn't sound like a game of musical chairs. It's simply a unique signature sound that strays away from formulaic, cookie-cutter rock and will appeal to a wide demographic of open-minded rock listeners.
Neal Alger guitar | Scott Burns saxophone | Jake Vinsel bass | George Fludas drums
Begun in 2010, Neal's Blue Note Quartet continues to perform in the major Chicago jazz venues. This ensemble is dedicated to reviving the lesser-known gems from the 1955-1970 period of the classic Blue Note Records catalog. Some composers represented are Joe Henderson, Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Horace Silver, Duke Pearson, Wayne Shorter, and many others. The group has performed at the Jazz Showcase, the Green Mill, Andy's Jazz Club, and Pops for Champagne.