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Album Release

New CD sparks creative energy for jazz composer Dean McNeill: Prairie Fire latest recording project from contemporary artist ensemble

Where there's smoke, there's fire... Prairie Fire, in this case, a smokin' hot collection of new works from jazz composer and trumpeter Dean McNeill. Head of the Department of Music at the University of Saskatchewan, McNeill has created a wholly Canadian project that showcases some of the best talent on the national jazz scene. To be released August 25, Prairie Fire features a mix of original music and new arrangements of well-known standards in this much anticipated studio recording.

The new pieces McNeill has created for Prairie Fire have long been in the works. Thanks in part to a grant from the Saskatchewan Arts Board, McNeill was able to bring together a select group of Canadian musicians to record the project in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in February 2007. The venture also included a live performance for national broadcast on CBC Radio 2 with repertoire for the radio show supplied by members of the group. Both the CD and concert highlight a cross-section of Canadian talent, a rare opportunity in a country so physically vast that members of the same musical community are often isolated from one another.

In gathering to record the project, the musicians of Prairie Fire were able to breathe energy into the new compositions for the first time. "A composer's work often remains lifeless, as symbols on a page, until the act of performance," states McNeill. "This is certainly true with jazz where so much of the essence of the music is spontaneously and uniquely supplied by the performers. When selecting musicians for the CD recording, I chose Canadians who were great players and good friends of mine. Many of the ensemble's membership have been inspirational to me, which made this project that much more meaningful, not to mention fun."

Saskatoon audiences will remember McNeill from his popular appearances at the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, legendary live venue The Bassment, and numerous performances for the U of S. Prairie Fire will be launched at a public reception held on Saturday, August 25, held at the Mendel Art Gallery and Conservatory from 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m; all are welcome. Following its release, the CD may be purchased at McNally Robinson Booksellers and by contacting Dean McNeill directly.


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