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Judge for Neal Grover

Kingston, NY
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Portrait of Neal Grover
At 51 I am re-entering the world of performing Jazz and R'n'B after a 12 year hiatus. I have played at the Kennedy center, I have played blues with harmonica masters Carey Bell and Charlie Sayles, bluegrass harmonica with bigshots Moondi Klein and Sally Truitt. I played The National Anthem with Dionne Warwick in front of 50 Us Judges including William "Call me Bill," Rehnquist. I have strolled with an accordion and a sax player (it was Jeff Lopez from Taylor Hicks's LiMBO) in Colonial Williamsburg. For six years I led a successful group called Neal Grover and Survivors in eastern Virginia, playing six and seven nights a week.

I became a teacher at a residential school in Hudson Valley New York and studied special education because I thought being an entertainer was sort of a "medium to medium low calling in life." Now that I have been teaching in Poughkeepsie City public schools for 8 years, I wanted to play a little. I sat in with the Jazz Pioneers Big Band and the first night Will Smith, the Tenor Sax player, asked me to play a few spots if I could cover the bass parts with my left hand (like the Jazz organists do.) Man, I am all over that like gravy on chitlins.

Will Smith may be a Vietnam Vet, a Harley Biker, a retired Detective from NYPD, and a boatload of other mind-boggling things, but what he REALLY DOES BEST is put soulful sax music in your earhole, time after time. Will Smith Trio is a jazz band, a vocal R'n'B group, a backup band for Rob Canillo, and a lot of other amazing things, but what we REALLY DO BEST is serve up funky joyful toe-tapping blues-based grooving musical medicine for your soul, time after time. We love what we do and you will feel it from the first note. This is not "headache jazz," brother, it's pure fun in liquid musical form. Try a shot. You won't be sorry.

Neal Grover, keyboard player, the Will Smith Trio.