“…a head for the blues and a torch-singer sensibility.”
“Shelley’s got that original blues singer’s sound…”
SHELLEY NEILL GROUP
Featuring: Shelley Neill, vocals
Laszlo Gardony, piano
Ron Mahdi, bass
Yoron Israel, drums
Shelley Neill has been singing in and around the Boston area for 20 years and has released 5 albums since 1999. Her latest recording Irish Eyes Gypsy Soul (her first in five years), incorporates many aspects of her musical, emotional, and personal history. “It’s about how I see the world – through my Irish Eyes and with my Gypsy Soul.” This album also celebrates her collaboration, over the last decade, with pianist Laszlo Gardony, bassist Ron Mahdi and drummer Yoron Israel and brings together her background and wide-ranging musical interests, including R&B tunes and straight-ahead jazz, with work by Bob Dylan, Abbey Lincoln, Stevie Wonder and many others.
Shelley Neill was born in the culturally rich but rough and tumble working-class Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, New Jersey in the early 1950’s, and abandoned by her Irish Catholic mother and Hungarian father at birth. She was adopted, as an infant, into a Jewish family that had grown up and lived in Newark.
Growing up, Neill began and ended each day listening to WNJR Radio, based in Newark. Music had become a huge part of her life and she grew to love the sounds of Dionne Warwick, Martha and the Vandelas, Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson. Later her interest moved to Janis Joplin, Sly and the Family Stone, Wes Montgomery, Bill Evans, the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin, along with an interest in neo-classical music – Igor Stravinsky and Oliver Messian. Then came the great ladies of Jazz: Ella, Sarah, and Billie introduced to her by Great Aunt Rose – a public school teacher who lived in the Bronx and loved Jazz music, especially the singers. Neill learned to love the music as well, which then grew to loving the way it felt to sing.
Neill moved to Boston in 1969 and had an on and off relationship with music until she returned to singing in the 1980’s and began to play in and around Boston. She traveled outside of the US and she started to research a Jazz and Blues trilogy project. The first album, The Blues Runs Though It, looked at the impact of Blues on Jazz from a vocalist’s perspective. A second album, Envisioning Blue, and then the third and final album of the series, entree blue, took her on a musical journey that began in 1915 with Robert Johnson and Ma Rainey and ended with Miles Davis in the 1960’s.
“She’s got a well of talent and puts on a great show…she doesn’t improvise so much as she interprets, which suits her distinctive voice.” - Boston Globe
“Neill wears the blues well. Her portrayal of sensual ballads generates deep feeling.”
- LA Jazz Scene
“Neill has grown to a point where she is becoming a major interpreter of the American Songbook.”
- All Music Guide