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Brooklyn Ritual

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Album Review

Some dogmatists in the jazz world would have us believe that improvisers have to record a lot of overdone standards in order to prove that they are legitimate. Such dogma is mindless; while standards can be great for practicing, there is no law stating that jazzmen are obligated to record a lot of them — or that original material cannot dominate their albums. To his credit, trumpeter John McNeil does most of the writing himself on Brooklyn Ritual, a 1997 date that he co-leads with reedman Kenny Berger (who is heard on baritone sax, clarinet, and bass clarinet). All of the musicians on this CD are New York residents; that is true of McNeil and Berger as well as trombonist John Mosca, bassist Dean Johnson, and drummer Steve Johns. The only well-known standard that this pianoless quintet interprets is Ary Barroso's "Brazil"; McNeil is the composer on decent post-bop pieces that range from the melancholy "One Last Goodbye" and the angular "Strictly Ballroom" to the intriguing "Doo-Wop," which manages to combine doo wop elements with the intellect of Miles Davis' 1960s groups. Doo wop, of course, was never meant to be intellectual — it thrived on simplicity — and McNeil's ability to fuse doo wop with something totally different speaks well of the Davis-influenced trumpeter. Brooklyn Ritual isn't a masterpiece, but it's a likable post-bop effort that will appeal to those who have a taste for the cerebral.


Born: 1948 in Yreka, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

John McNeil grew up in Yreka, CA. The little town off of I-5 wasn't exactly brimming with musical knowledge, but the tenacious McNeil still taught himself trumpet and learned to read music on his own. By his late teens the young trumpeter was playing in combos throughout Northern California; by the mid-'70s he was freelancing in New York City and gaining a reputation as an innovative, lyrical player. He performed with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra at the Village Vanguard, and led his own groups...
Full bio
Brooklyn Ritual, John McNeil
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  • 9,99 €
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: 01 January 1998

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