“Neil” is a composition written for Neil Slater, the director of the UNT jazz program and conductor for the world-famous One O’Clock Jazz Band from 1981 – 2008. I’ve known Neil Slater for almost 40 years.
“Fate connects us with special people. In music, our successful elders serve as models for inspiration. They show younger ones a path that may be taken for a personal career. When an older and wiser person bestows a personal interest in someone younger, a unique friendship evolves.
He began as a mentor but as time passed we became professional colleagues on the bandstand and in the classroom as well as dear friends. Since his arrival at UNT in 1981, he’s more than once encouraged me to join the program. Ironically, after his retirement in 2008, I joined the faculty in 2010. I haven’t regretted it – in fact, I love my job. So how do I sufficiently say “thank you” for all of the support I’ve felt from this man over the years? I’m sure there are many others who feel similarly; Neil’s twenty-seven years as the head of the jazz program at UNT have had a significant impact on many young musicians who aspire to be the best. The most meaningful thing I could think of was to write a composition and dedicate it to him. Neil and I both love Thad Jones’s composition “To You” for its soft and lush sound, beautiful melody, harmony, and sentiment. So my thanks to you, Neil, is written in the same spirit. Thank you – not only for our personal bond but also to acknowledge your great service to music education, and on behalf of so many UNT students who were under your tutelage. Keep on swingin’!”
Read the article about Rich DeRosa and “Neil” on cbslocal.com