Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jim McNeely/Kelly Sill/Joel Spencer: Boneyard

Origin Arts
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.5.09
Buy CD: Boneyard

Pianist Jim McNeely, bassist Kelly Sill and drummer Joel Spencer are well-known musicians who began their careers in the Chicago area.

They first met during the 1970s, but as members of other groups. All have played with literally dozens of name organizations: McNeely with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big band, Stan Getz and Phil Woods; Sill with Hank Jones, Don Menza and Clark Terry; and Spencer with Count Basie, Wynton Marsalis and Scott Hamilton.

McNeely earned nine Grammy Award nominations from 1997 through 2006, and serves on the faculties of both the Manhattan School of Music and William Paterson University. Sill, a graduate of the University of Illinois, is involved in jazz festivals within and outside of the United States, as is Spencer.

All are “first call” artists for commercial radio, TV and movie soundtracks.

Two of this album's tunes were written by McNeely, and two by Sill; the rest are jazz standards by Kurt Weill, Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Wayne Shorter and Bob Hilliard/David Mann. McNeely handled all the arrangements.

All are beautifully done: Your attention will be riveted to the music, and that's a major accomplishment in a trio setting. These are first-class artists, and they've produced an CD you'll want to play again and again.

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