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  #1  
Old Mar 2, 2005, 12:31 PM
Susan Susan is offline
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Has anyone heard of Al Neil?

Hihi,

I was wondering if Al Neil still play's concerts and where would I find his music.Thanks.

Susan
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  #2  
Old Mar 2, 2005, 12:41 PM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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Al Neil's very well known around here - something of a legend, in fact. He's over 80 now and no longer performing. You can find out more here
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  #3  
Old Mar 5, 2005, 10:29 PM
Gregg Simpson Gregg Simpson is offline
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re. Al Neil

As one of Al Neil's closest associates going back to the 60s. You might want to give me a call at 604-929-6621 and we can chat.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Al and his music, you should check out our 2002 release, "Retrospective 1965-1968" a double CD with colour booklet. I think there's still a review of it by poet Jamie Reid linked from the home page on this site.

You can also order it at http://www.greggsimpson.com/CDOrdering.html

There's also a re-release of Al's Folkways album from 1958 with poet Kenneth Patchen, featuring alto player Dale Hillary.

Hope to hear from you...
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  #4  
Old Mar 6, 2005, 12:51 AM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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Give you a call? On a phone??? Gregg, that's so . . uh . . . twentieth century. And you one of our avant garde luminaries. Why not share you Al Neil lore with the community? That's what this board's all about.

How did you meet Al? What led to your collaborations? Where do you first perform together publicly?
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  #5  
Old Mar 6, 2005, 12:53 AM
Gregg Simpson Gregg Simpson is offline
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My Al Neil Chronology

True enough, Brian. It's just easier than typing!

Actually, I will work on a chronology of my work with Al. What a great idea...
Thanks for the suggestion,
Gregg
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  #6  
Old Mar 6, 2005, 01:01 AM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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This is good opportunity to remind everyone of the excellent work Gregg's been doing documenting much of the art and music scene locally on his own web site. Check out History of the Sound Gallery and Motion Studio by Gregg Simpson, for example.
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  #7  
Old Mar 6, 2005, 10:23 AM
Gregg Simpson Gregg Simpson is offline
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I first heard Al Neil on a local CBC TV broadcast. They used to show tapes made at the old Cellar on Main. I remember seeing Mingus on one. He played a lot of piano, not much bass.

Then I saw Al live at the Java Jive on Locarno Beach, the predecesor of the Flat Five. Al Weirtz played drums and it may have been Rick Anstey on bass.
The next time I saw Al it was with Rick on bass, who I was then jamming with and also Jim Chivers on drums and Dale Hillary on alto. I remember they played Summertime for most of a whole set . The harmonic alterations and free wheeling style would become a trademark of the trio we'd later form.

In 1965 I was finally escorted to meet Al by the late poet and artist, Curt Lang. Al and his wife of time, Marguerite, lived in an old house behind some apartments on Chilco. It was a very surreal place with Al's junk assemblages surrounding the house.

The group we formed was originally a quartet, with Bob Buckley playing alto sax, but that only lasted two rehearsals.

The trio succeeded the quartet and went on to play a lot of great concerts over the next three years including the Trips Festival (opening for Janis Joplin and Big Brother) at the Garden Auditorium at the PNE. We played in our own studio, the Sound Gallery, and at UBC, the Vancouver School of Art, Intermedia, the Vancouver Art Gallery, etc.

The trio became a duo in 1968 and then we added Al''s wife on violin. hat trio toured to Victoria, Toronto, Edmonton and Regina. We used a lot of pre-recorded tapes and other sound collage techniques.

In 1972, Rick Anstey rejoined on soprano sax and we form a new group with Al, the Jazz Probe, which also included Annie Seigel on flute: concerts included the Vancouver Art Gallery (with the addition of Bob Burns and Phil Morgan on accoustic and electric basses and Nelson Lepine on guitar.) The group also played a concert in Victoria at Open Space.

In later years we did a few small ensemble concerts, but one was with a big band at the Pumps Gallery downtown and at the Western Front during the first Vancouver Jazz Festivals in the 1980s.

Al more or less stopped performing in the 90s, but he still tinkles the ivories at home on occasion. It's amazing to hear the things he still comes up with. Al used to mesmorize audiences with his solo work, especially the ballads he would invent spontaneously.

It's been a lifetime of musical adventures knowing him and I am sure his legacy from the bebop days to now will long be cherished by many listeners and fans.
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  #8  
Old Mar 6, 2005, 11:31 AM
Brian Nation Brian Nation is offline
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I met Al Neil my first day in Vancouver, in 1963. It was at the Flat Five (it might have been known as the Blue Horn by then). A couple of years later when he was doing some of those performances you mention, Gregg, I tried to get him over to my place to listen to some Cecil Taylor albums. He’d never heard Cecil and told me, “People say I play like Cecil Taylor so I’d rather not hear him.” I said I didn’t think he played anything like Cecil and would probably find him interesting. He still refused.

Needless to say he eventually heard him. Al was there every night when Cecil played both at Oil Can Harry’s and the Vancouver Jazz Society in the late seventies.
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  #9  
Old Mar 8, 2005, 07:18 PM
Zang
 
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I saw Al Neil perform at a place called "Metro Media", (now defunct) on Commercial Drive back around 1983 if I'm not mistaken. It's all very foggy now, but I seem to think that the late great Martin Bartlett was on the bill as well.

I'm pretty sure that the Vancouver Art Gallery has some of Al Neil's mixed media scuptures in their permanent collection.
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  #10  
Old Jul 30, 2005, 04:49 PM
Susan Susan is offline
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Thanks

hihi,

Thanks for sharing the stories of Al. I recently bought the cd "Retrospective 1965-1968" and I think it's amazing work. I have heard that he no longer perform. That's too bad.
However, I think his art work is in display somewhere in vancouver. I have to check that out when I'm in town.
Gregg I hope you don't mind that I may give you a call one day to learn more about al and his work. I find it so cool that I am talking to one of the members who have helped create an awsome jazz cd.
I have one question. How many books is out there. I have changes and slammer already.
Please update me on any news about the jazz scene in vancouver and al neil and his newest creations. Once again thanks.

susan
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  #11  
Old Jul 30, 2005, 06:42 PM
Gregg Simpson Gregg Simpson is offline
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re. Al Neil

Hi Susan,

In fact your request is very timely because there is a big celebration of Al's music, art and writing being organized by a number of curators and artrists to start this fall and culminate next year.

I will be in a series, playing in one concert with Paul Plmley and others at the Roundhouse in Vancouver this fall. There are exhibitions and other things planned to celebrate Al's work.

Unfortunately, his art isn't being seen in any commercial galleries these days and he only plays piano a bit at home. My other regret is that the Trios' late bassist and soprano player, Richard Anstey, won't be there. His sudden passing was doubley a shock as he and I had just put out the Trio's double CD two years before on Richard's Blue MInor label.

I am glad you liked the music. It was a very amazing chemistry in that group. If you want to read more about the beginning of the Trio and the multi media scene of the '60s, please visit this website:
http://www.greggsimpson.com/soundgal...tionstudio.htm
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