Richard and I met in 1971. From the early days of our friendship we got together regularly to improvise. Both of us appreciate the adventure, the exhilaration, and the risks in making music spontaneously. We have no fear of getting lost, and we usually manage to find our way to a new and different place, to a new and worth while composition.
Richard plays the piano with the sensitivity, power, and scope of a full orchestra. He can create the impression of a whisper, or call forth the ominous force of a thunder storm. I imagine my flute sound as a kind of textured thread that weaves itself through the substance of the world he describes for my ears.
What I've enjoyed most about producing this CD is that from the very first session, we just turned on the recorder and one or both of us began playing with no pre-discussion. It is truly music of the moment, which is both its strength and its vulnerability.
With both the composing process and the performance taking place simultaneously you can hear the players thinking. In this context, an idea which otherwise might be censored, once uttered, must then be dealt with, and often very fresh music develops. Once a flow is established, a certain letting go must take place. This keeps any over-intellectualizing to a minimum, allowing something more subliminal to prevail. And, in the pauses there is a more intense spark of anticipation, for it's not just the listener who doesn't know what's happening next. We don;t either.
Composer, Pianist, Washington, D.C., 1941
In addition to the piano, during the sixties and seventies, Richard played orchestral contrabass and toured the western states with the University of Utah concert band. Beginning in the sixties, he played bass with various rock, jazz, and Brazilian groups. He also played stints with the Larry Elgart , Sammy Kaye and Tex Beneke Big Bands. Richard also was active in the theatre ,writing music for various off-broadway plays and the venerable Stella "This is not a democracy!" Adler Theatre Workshop. During this same period, and through to the present, he recorded and toured with various Brazilian groups such as composer/Grammy nominee Thiago de Mello, Afro-Brazilian flutist/composer Lloyd McNeill, the late Latin flutist/composer Mauricio Smith, and the late renowned percussionist Dom um Romao.
Richard holds two degrees in composition from the Juilliard School. While there, he studied with American composers Stanley Wolfe, Vittorio Giannini, and the “dean” of American composer teachers, Vincent Persichetti. He received the Alexandre Gretchanninov Memorial Prize in Composition for his String Quartet and was also teaching assistant to the jazz arranger/educator Hall Overton (who arranged the famous Monk Carnegie Hall album) and the Italian composer Luciano Berio.
He began his professional teaching at the Juilliard School’s Extension Division, teaching Twentieth Century Music, Literature and Materials of Music, and Composer’s Workshop. He also became the Pre-College Division’s composition teacher for several years both there and at the Manhattan School of Music.
In more recent years, Richard has concentrated his performance work on piano, composing and performing concerts with his own ensemble, playing night club gigs, and accompanying and recording with various vocalists, most notably with the great jazz singer Vivian Lord. He’s also well known in New York for his thirty-three years as co-house pianist, along with Brazilian pianist Dom Salvador, under the Brooklyn Bridge at The River Café playing his unique arrangements of jazz standards and “The Great American Songbook.”
Richard has been active writing chamber music scores for documentary films, including the music for the late actor Richard Kiley’s last film appearance in “Grow Old Along With Me," produced and directed Anne Macksoud and John Ankele. In the past few years he also composed several other chamber music scores for documentaries highlighting current vital social issues, such as the U.S policy of supplying munitions to poor countries, programs for the elderly, and 3rd World Fair Trade issues.
In 1986 Richard entered the field of aviation as an avocation and became active conducting volunteer flights for the humanitarian organization AngelFlight and the environmental volunteer pilot group, LightHawk.
In 1991, Richard founded a non-profit organization, Amazônia project Inc., to provide annual volunteer dental/medical visits to selected villages and indigenous settlements along the Amazon River System in the state of Amazônas, Brazil.
In October 2004, he organized his colleagues in the Warwick area, composed extensive music for, and produced “Concert for the Survivors” to raise money for hurricane Katrina victims and also flew volunteers in his airplane to assist the recovery efforts in New Orleans.
Richard began a movement for the eventual establishment of a major center for the arts, to be entitled The Warwick Valley Center for the Arts. All of its programs would be centered around education. It would include resident performing ensembles and an institute of music, which Richard already founded in 2008, and was operating in evenings at Warwick Valley High School under the aegis of Community 2000. Plans for the center continue.
Richard lives with his wife, two sons, two dogs, a cat and a canary, in the hamlet of New Milford, town of Warwick, New York.
Flutist, composer, painter, poet, educator
Lloyd McNeill (born in Washington, D.C.) is an artist and flutist, currently based in New York City. Having studied Art and Zoology in Morehouse College, Atlanta, he moved on to be the first recipient of Howard University's MFA degree. In 1964-5, he did further study in Lithography at Paris' Ecole Des Beaux Arts. During his residence there, he spent a considerable amount of time with Pablo Picasso and his wife, Jacqueline. He has also studied music composition privately with the composer Hale Smith, music theory and flute technique with the jazz musician Eric Dolphy, and classical flute technique and repertoire with Harold Jones.
McNeill taught at several institutes of higher education, and is professor emeritus of Mason Gross School of the Arts, New Jersey. Through the 1970s, and in addition to his position in Art, McNeill also taught Afro-American Music History & private flute lessons, and was instrumental in launching the Jazz Studies Program at Rutgers University.
McNeill exhibited his paintings and drawings at several galleries and colleges in the U.S. Northeast. As a flutist and composer, McNeill recorded eight albums of music as leader, from the 1969 Asha to the 1998 X.Tem.Por.E. He published two volumes of poems: Blackline: A Collection of Poems, Drawings and Photographs and 'After the Rain: A Collection of New Poems.
In 2007, Lloyd McNeill was chosen by the USPS to design a postage stamp for the celebration of Kwanzaa 2009.
1969: Asha (with Gene Rush, Steve Novosel, Eric Gravatt, Paul Hawkins)
1976: Treasure (with Dom Salvador, Cecil McBee, Ray Armando, Brian Brake, Portinho)
1978: Tori (with Dom Salvador, Amaury Tristao, John LaBarbera, Buster Williams, Victor Lewis, Dom Um Romao, Nana Vasconcelos, Howard Johnson