August 10, 2007: Press
New CD sparks creative energy for jazz composer
Dean McNeill: Prairie Fire latest recording project from contemporary
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
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
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 online via distributor Cellar Live (www.cellarlive.com).
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