Neil Carson is a saxophonist and composer/arranger whose musical ventures span many genres and disciplines. At 26 years old Neil has had the fortune of collaborating with some of the biggest names in jazz, pop, rock, and other genres. From 2010-2016 Neil studied at the University of Miami's acclaimed Frost School of Music, attended by such luminaries as Pat Metheny, Maria Schneider, Ben Folds, Bruce Hornsby and others. Earning a bachelor's in Jazz Saxophone and a master's in Studio Jazz Composition, Neil also spent three years as a member of the award-winning Frost Concert Jazz Band, and has played with artists such as Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin, Terrence Blanchard, Steve Miller, Benny Golson, Arturo Sanoval, Dave Liebman, Lucie Arnaz, Maria Schneider, Barry Manilow, and others.
As a composer/arranger, Neil's work has been featured in Frost performances, notably his arrangement of "Caravan" for big band, vocal ensemble and solo vocalist. His arrangement of the Harry Warren tune "I Had the Craziest Dream" was performed by the Downbeat award-winning collegiate vocal ensemble Pacific Standard Time at California State University Long Beach, and by Frost Extensions at the Next Generation Jazz Competition in Monterey, CA, where the group took first place. Neil has been called on to write arrangements for top-caliber artists such as vocalists Cyrille Aimee and Becca Stevens. In 2017 his composition "Ballad for the Hopeless Romantic" was awarded first prize in the ASMAC Bill Conti Big Band Arranging/Composing Competition, and was performed and recorded live in Los Angeles with the Kim Richmond Jazz Orchestra.
Neil is an active jazz educator, having recently joined the jazz faculty at Midwest Young Artists Conservatory (MYAC), a top-ranked youth music program in Highwood, Illinois, currently celebrating its 25th year of musical and educational excellence. Also in demand as a guest artist and clinician, Neil has served as an adjudicator for the 2017 North Shore Jazz Fest and as guest artist/clinician at Glenbrook South High School, as well as a vocal jazz audition judge for the 2016 ILMEA District 7 Festival.
Neil's musical influences are diverse, ranging from Earth, Wind and Fire to Sonny Stitt, from Cannonball Adderly to Metallica, and from Peter Gabriel to Paul Motian. Examples of his wide-ranging compositional projects include a concerto for bassoon and string orchestra, an a capella arrangement of "Both Sides, Now" by Joni Mitchell, and an arrangement of Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues" for symphony orchestra. Neil's most recent project is a series of arrangements of 80's pop songs for jazz nonet, which can be found on the MEDIA page.
(Cover photo by Rebecca Ciprus)