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Good CD press, April 2008

 This just in, from ROLL MAGAZINE in the Hudson Valley. It’s not on their website yet, and I don’t have th author credit, but here it is:

Neil Alexander & NAIL
Tugging At The Infinite

CD Review From Roll Magazine, April 2008

Proudly proclaiming that there is “No electric guitar on this record”, Neil Alexander strikes a blow for keyboardists everywhere, armed with a rack of synth modules and his trusty hand held controller. With prodigious chops, chordal vocabulary and supple support from local jazz favorites Charlie Kniceley, T Xiques, and Nadav Snir-Zelniker, among others, Alexander’s instrumentals cover considerable ground between 70’s Jeff Beck, Bitches Brew-style jazz jam and John Carpenter movie soundtracks. Plus the inevitable guitar-sound-on-a-keyboard thing. www.nailmusic.com.

Neil Alexander & NAIL with guest Lillie Howard

Neil Alexander & NAIL with guest Lillie Howard

This Showed up in the paper on Monday, with this article:
Times Herald Record Article

Needless to say, I was pretty pleased. Thanks to Barbara Bedrell, and Times Herald Record and special thanks and Kudos to Aquanetta Wright, the self proclaimed “Ferry Godmother” of Newburgh, and the producer of the Newburgh Jazz series. She’s making it happen for us in Newburgh – go Aquanetta!!

Living a Dream

So – for those of you who have wondered what kinds of things I’ve been up to since leaving “the Machine”, I offer the following as a shining example. I’m living a dream: making original cutting edge music 24/7. I’ll focus on the last 10 days as a perfect example.
Wed. April 2nd: The second MAHAVISHNU PROJECT date at the Iridium in NYC was a smash. As an added bonus I got to meet the great writer, Bill Milkowski. The friday and monday following I had rehearsals for an upcoming dance performance (see below); Wednesday April 9th brought a quick jazz gig for the Intermediate school in Goshen NY with bassist Bill Crow and trombonist Eddie Bert, two legends of jazz. Thursday April 10th NAIL performed at an Orange County Press Conference celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month; singer Lillie Howard was a guest (look for YouTube videos to be uploaded soon). Friday April 11th I had a Jazz trio gig at Café Mozart in Mamaroneck NY with Nadav Z and Dave Ruffles. This group has been hitting steady since the beginning of the year, and is really coming along. Then Saturday Night April 12th was the SUNY Purchase Downtown Cabaret; I performed as part of the Dance Conservatory set of 5 pieces, all by different choreographers. I worked with Cori Kresgi, using the “Logical Oscillator” rig (laptop, controllers, synth). Packed house; great response. I should mention that another choreographer for Downtown Cabaret called me Thursday; her musician could not complete the score, and could I give her something? So Friday afternoon in between SUNY classes and a rehearsal for Cori K (about 2 hours) I composed, recorded, edited and mixed to CD an 8 minute original score. Whew! Her piece was performed Friday night. (So I guess I was in 2 places at once….?) I will post both scores at some point, with links in this blog.

 

All in all, 10 days of serious music making in a diversity of styles. That’s all I ever wanted. (Nice to get paid for doing it, too.) More? I say: “Bring it!” Tomorrow I start work on a 20 minute edit for choreographer Kevin Wynn, to be performed at the SUNY Spring Dance Concert (2 weeks!). Time to hit the software.
As always, thanks for listening.

 

– the NAIL

Funny or not?

From Pete Levin’s website:

Did you hear the one about the jazz musician who won 1/2 a million dollars in the lottery?
An interviewer asked him what his plans were.
He said he’d just keep on gigging until the money was gone.

Return to the future

Back in 1971, the future of music was a hybrid of Rock, Jazz and Classical. Alot of groups were doing various combinations of things; prog rock combined classical and rock, for example. But for my money, the forefront of this movement was a band called the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The music was called “Fusion”.

Run by guitarist John McLaughlin, the M.O. pushed the limits of what was possible for a live band to do. The writing, performing and recordings were second to none. If you’ve never heard of them, you owe it to yourself to check them out. They helped define the music of a generation – my generation. Learn HERE.

Right around 11th grade in High School, we got the “book”. This was the McLaughlin Book – containing, in score form, the first four albums of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. My musician friends and I in high school spent many, many – I mean many – hours, working through every inch of that book. Trying every tune; re-arranging things, re-orchestrating, and just having an incredible time of it all. I learned a lot from that experience. I continued to play this music with whoever I could find for the next 18 years, often playing to empty room after empty room and getting turned down for gigs left and right. Seemed like no one wanted to hear this music. “Fusion” had become a “dirty” word. Too bad.

I finally walked away from that sound & style in 1997, concentrating on finding my voice in a new world. This finally happened in 2005, when I had a Eureka moment, and I realized how I could combine all my diverse influences into one thriving, growing musical unit – NAIL.

But – life isn’t finished throwing those wonderful curves yet. Through a convoluted series of events which included 10 years on the road with “the Machine” (those who know me know about that), I find myself receiving a phone call from Gregg Bendian, drummer and bandleader of a group called – and here’s where it gets interesting – the “Mahavishnu Project“. Well, having practically lived and breathed this music for so many years, I jumped at the chance. We’ve played 2 shows so far; I can only describe the experience as surreal. Going back and playing this stuff – it fells like I’m falling backwards through time. But the audience is there – now more then ever, perhaps, as new generations discover this (what I always thought of as amazing) music.

Anyway, enough rambling for now – I will keep you all posted.

As always, thanks for listening –

-NAIL

Post videos? Ok, cool

So – I’m new to the whole wordpress thing. Still. I just changed my “theme”, and I’m liking the new one.

I also like this new plugin that let’s me post videos from you tube. like this one:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEqrGBknBmg

Pretty cool, eh? FYI, this is our most watched video on You tube.

See ya!

A Day to Remember

Hey yowie zowie. How are YOU????

I just had the best day ever. Seriously, a really great day of Music & Money making. First, a dance class in the morning. I forget, sometimes those are really FUN. Then, onto Long Island NY and Hofstra University for a NAIL performance for the music students, part of their “Music 20” concert series. 150 – 200 students, mandatory attendance. They HAVE to be there; we get the benefit of a built in Audience. Nice little theater type space; holds about 380 people so the place felt close to full.

And then we played – and did we ever! Man, we rocked the free world. No major gear issues… I even got a little Q & A in there, bit of a lec/dem vibe. There was a beatiful grand piano which we used for “Darn That Dream” – we usually do it electric, but we did a short acoustic version up front adding to the “demonstration” aspect. And then on top of all that I sold something like 8 CD’s at $15 a pop. But – what I friggin’ great show. I was on toop of the world after that…

Then – it was on to Teaneck NJ for my first gig with the Mahavishnu Project. Even though I was travelling from Long Island, through NY City and on to NJ at the height – the middle – of rush hour, I encountered almost no traffic at all, and arrived the the club an hour before I expected to. So far so good. In any case, I felt so good from the afternoon show I had no fear and no worries.

Then we played the show. Another success! Completely killer. Honestly, I live for the NAIL gigs – to me those are the REAL deal – but damn this was good. My old friend Conrad was there, and afterwards we went to a diner – like we hadn’t done in 15 years. I got home at 3 am – but I was still wired, and flying. “Cloud Nine” is what I think they call it. And Iget to do the Maha gig again n Wednesday, at the Iridium in NYC. YES!!!

Seriously though, it was the kind of day I dream about. Playing music I love, with great musicians (at high volumes!), and making money doing it. I mean really. I’m having trouble with the bills this month; things have been tighter than usual. But for me, a day like that? There’s not much more I could hope for – except of course for many many more of them. The memory of that day will help me through. I can’t wait to do it again.

So thanks all you people for the support. I hope to make music for you again soon.

“All is full of Love” – Bjork

Peace out

NAIL

The Return of “Strictly Kill”

Nice, nice, nice. Nice!!! The venue was Benji & Jakes. If you’re in Sullivan county NY, you need to check this place out. We will be back. so don’t forget to sign up on the mailing list….!

The show was a complete success! What that means is:

Biz wise, we played great, were on time and professional, and made a good impression.

Gear wise, everything worked. My rig threatened to crap out right at the very beginning, but once I got it going it never failed. Adds to our professionalism, and helps with my “sanity clause” (i.e. when my gear doesn’t work, I go nuts).

Performance wise, we played from 8:40 till 1 am (!). THIS is what it means to be a real working band. Everybody there dug the band – especially the owners! We really earned our bread last night.

Musically – not everything was perfect, but it was a great opportunity to see which tunes worked in that context, and which didn’t. Some not so great decisions about what to play next on my part, but I really started to get a sense of how to structure the sets. Of course, the best way to find out is to be doing this all the time. As I said, everybody dug the band, so it didn’t feel forced or difficult even when playing tunes we had hardly rehearsed.

YES!!!!!

I used to play with Mad Mike Cullens. He was a hell of a drummer (still is). Our motto then was: Strictly Kill. Let it be known: Strictly Kill is BACK, BIG TIME.

We love YOU! See you on stage…

– the NAIL

Ready to Rock

Tonight – Benji & Jakes.

No more pulled punches. No more easy funk. Time to throw down – WAY down.

We’re going to pull out some of the more serious tunes, and show what we’re really made of.

Time to get heavy.

 

I have to say, being in the Mahavishnu Project is really making me want to turn it up, in way I haven’t done in years. It fells like it’s time, to get back to basics, to the reasons I started playing this music in the first place!

 

It’s gonna be glorious.

NAIL at the Blue Note