Meal for McNeil Playalong
Updated: Apr 10
I've been revisiting and updating a bunch of older compositions and thought I'd make them available here.
Meal For McNeil (1994)
This tune was written as a tribute to one of my favorite teachers and trumpet players, John McNeil. The year after I graduated from college, me and my freshman roommate, Matt Porco, decided to take John out to the North End and buy him a nice Italian dinner in appreciation of everything he did for us as a teacher and as a hilarious, exceptional person as well. I distinctly remember that when the waiter presented us with the cork from the wine that we ordered for our approval, John took the cork and put in is his ear and said, “Sounds fine to me!” When the bill came, it turned out they did not accept credit cards and neither me or Matt had any cash. John wound up buying us the dinner and said, “Thanks so much, guys.”
This tune wound up being on the CalArts Jazz ’95 CD. During the rehearsals for the recording, the drummer was having a difficult time feeling the hits on the upbeats of the 5th and 6th measures of the A section and apparently complained to the great drummer, Sherman Ferguson, who was subbing for Joe LaBarbara that day. Later on that day, I met Sherman and he said, “Oh, I’ve heard about you. You’re one of those “composer-ly” types!” and went off on me about how you leave the drumming up to the drummers and don’t tell them where the hits are. He got really worked up and I tried to diffuse the situation by telling him I was a fan of his playing on the Pat Martino albums. He calmed down for a second and told me he’s played with a lot of great guitar players like Wes Montgomery for instance. I said, “Wow, what was that like?” and he suddenly remembered he was pissed at me and said ,”Well, he was no Jamie Rosenn!”