Neil Jacobs
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Neil Jacobs

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Apr
12
Neil Jacobs @ Alfred University

Alfred, New York, USA

Alfred, New York, USA

Apr
12
Neil Jacobs @ WAMC Live Radio Concert w/Jay Ungar

Albany, New York, USA

Albany, New York, USA

Apr
08
Neil Jacobs @ Harpersfield Vineyard

Geneva, Ohio, USA

Geneva, Ohio, USA

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Reviews

"mesmerizing style."
St. Louis Riverfront Times

"the rockin'est 12-string guitar since early Leo Kottke"
Austin Chronicle

"brings to mind John Fahey traveling through strange and exotic lands"
Windham Hill Recordings

"Jacobs covers the world vibe on his extraordinary 12-string, fusing flamenco, Celt, Balkan, Greek, jazz and gypsy..." - Mike Jurovic - Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

""Return of the Romani son" - RJ Lannan - The Sounding Board

"'Folk and gypsy musician' this title only begins to encompass the broad and unique sound that Jacobs has cultivated"
Aubrey Woolverton - Oberlin Review

"Music that brings out the haunting and mysterious qualities of the 12-string guitar."
Delta Snake Daily CD Blues Review

"Unimaginable richness thrown to the winds with complete abandonment - echoes of Django and other musics both modern and ancient" Jazz Lover's List

"He came out alone and sounded like everything from a guitar to a symphony orchestra" Jay Ungar

"He does everything to that guitar but give it an herbal massage"
Livingston Taylor

"…a dazzling 12-string guitarist with an enormous palette of experiences to paint from."
The Other Paper

“Plays the daylights out of the 12-string guitar” Palmer Moore - Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club

"Neil makes his twelve-string guitar sounds like an entire orchestra." Dean Reed ("Und seine Lieder")

"...a superb 12 string guitar virtuoso" Marjan Ornik, Libra Radio, Slovenia

"From jigs to jazz Jacobs gives you high speed harmonics and arrangements that keep your feet moving."
Austin Chronicle

"His 12-string guitar instrumentals sound as if they were born in an exotic cerebral locale."
St. Louis Riverfront Times

"For over twenty-five years, this award winning performer and composer has toured the world, bringing a whole new emotional and spiritual virtuosity to the instrument." - Mike Jurovic - F.A.M.E Review

"Jacobs has been playing and composing for over a quarter of a century. He has traveled extensively from one side of Europe to the other. Neil and his 12-string have been part of an ongoing tour that offers succor to the lost and culture to the found. He has truly traveled the way of the gypsy, but unlike the sad history of the Romani, he is usually welcomed with open arms and hearts." - RJ Lannan - New Age Reporter

"...wonderfully fast-paced and intricate" The Oberlin Review

"…an intense, expressive, and impossibly intricate style"
Rob Harvilla-The Other Paper

"….touches the soul of the Gypsy."
Laszlo Regezcy-Nagy (Secretary to the President of Hungary)

"12-string guitar as percussion, incantation, transcendence over the limitations of flesh and blood (you would not BELIEVE), the salty peasant mystery of ancestry, pulled heart strings, shuddering steel strings, fretboard as surfboard of the heavens, guitarist as Magus-Pythagorus rapt in wonder at the overtones of creation. Jacobs is a transported enfant terrible with the muscle and discipline of absolutely mature musical understanding."
Jazz Lovers List - Various


The Sounding Board by R J Lannan

RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.

Return of the Romani Son

Just noting the titles on Neil Jacobs' album Secret Places piqued my interest. However, I was truly rewarded when the music touched my spirit. I played a 12-string once years ago, but it didn’t sound like this. Jacobs' mastery of the instrument is well…magical. He combines contemporary themes with classical styling and the result is sometimes warm and sophisticated, sometimes playful and exciting. As an added bonus you get a whirlwind tour, albeit a musical one, of North America and most of Europe.

Many times Jacob’s phenomenal style made me wonder how many people were actually playing the guitar. Every time it was just Neil. Oh, he had a little help from Arkadiy Gips on violin, Craig Marley on udu, Steven Fox on upright bass and John Douglas on electric bass on a few of the cuts. But on guitar…just Neil.

Neil starts you off with a plucky little tune called Singing Dunes. You are treated to white smiles and white sand beaches somewhere along the Mediterranean. Warm breezes and a dazzling sun dance around you as the music gains momentum. As the day wears on there is just the two of you as the world and the music revolves around you.

Who or what is referenced in the song Martin Eden? A Jack London character or the French translation of Morning in Paradise? It’s hard to believe that Jacobs would go off on a tangent to pay homage to an American writer, so my bet is on the French version. Oh, but wait. In another tune Jacobs makes reference to one of the most spectacular sights in California in the tune Morning at Ragged Point. So now we have the globetrotting writer who hails from that awe-inspiring California coast. Both songs are sparkling Pacific jewels. Martin Eden sounds a lot like dawn rising out of the golden Pacific and Morning at Ragged Point is a melodic hundred mile jaunt up the coast to Big Sur.

On two tunes, Song of Vojvodina and Zlato Moje Neil takes you on a special and very personal journey to Serbia. One of my favorite tracks on Secret Places is the resplendent tune Zlato Moje (My Golden One). This is one of those romantic tunes that tears at the heartstrings with eloquent beauty. On Song of Vojvodina there is a peculiarly energetic mandolin lead and a tick-tock tempo that exalts the spirit of the Balkans.

With true classical grace Sympathy for Salieri reminds you of the man that competed with uber-composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Even though Salieri had laudable talents of his own he was a victim of wrong guy in the wrong place syndrome. There is a gentle, sparkling guitar score that allows you hear every glistening note of Jacobs’s talent in the composition.

It sounds like Jacobs has quite the handle on slack key guitar in the astonishing title tune Secret Places. It is absolutely the best cut on the album and worth many replays. It was a take a walk in the woods tune. Find the biggest hemlock, and sit back and relax under its protective dark green boughs. Sorry, the rest of the world is on its own while I think my private thoughts.

Jacobs has been playing and composing for over a quarter of a century. He has traveled extensively from one side of Europe to the other. Neil and his 12-string have been part of an ongoing tour that offers succor to the lost and culture to the found. He has truly traveled the way of the gypsy, but unlike the sad history of the Romani, he is usually welcomed with open arms and hearts.

Neil Jacobs has been around the world and, like a rare find in a souvenir shop he presents us with his wondrous gifts of music. The grown-up child in you can find sanctuary in Neil Jacob’s - Secret Places.


Rating: Very Good -


- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 3/9/2006 - Soundin Board Review - New Age Reporter


"folk gypsy musician,” this title only begins to encompass the broad and unique sound that Jacobs has cultivated"
Aubrey Woolverton - Oberlin Review

"The audience seemed to really enjoy not only his musical style but also his inter-song banter. Jacobs made a point of filling the space between his songs with jokes and self-deprecating humor"

Jacobs was very comfortable with his instrument and his performance was engaging. The songs were wonderfully fast-paced and intricate — it was easy to imagine them being played in gypsy groups in Spain and Eastern Europe. Because his playing style involved strumming, fingerwork, picking and guitar slaps, his sound, while distinct, was very characteristic of traditional European Gypsy music.

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<< Front page
Arts
February 17, 2006

Eclectic Guitarist Presents Boho Bricolage Concert
American Gypsy Guitar
 
?Bohemian Traveler: Neil Jacobs plays gypsy guitar music at the Cat.



By Aubrey Woolverton

Twelve-string guitar player Neil Jacobs performed for a large crowd at The Cat in the Cream this past Saturday. Jacobs is a self-taught musician who has been touring and performing since the 1980s. Though he calls himself a “folk gypsy musician,” this title only begins to encompass the broad and unique sound that Jacobs has cultivated.

Jacobs describes his music as “little touches of this and that” and credits his early interest in guitar playing to a homemade shoebox he created at the age of eight. His technique has certainly expanded since his youth — after graduating to the 12-string guitar, he now plays folk music focusing on storytelling and community gatherings, collected from various “gypsy haunts” of Spain, Russia and Eastern Europe where he has lived and studied over the years.

While his music has been lumped into the Celtic music category — his latest album, Secret Places, was even named one of the top Celtic albums of the year by a Columbus radio show — it is heavily influenced by Spain and the Balkan states. These influences are certainly shown in his song “Spanedonia,” whose name is derived from the combination of Spanish and Macedonian themes. Perhaps an even better example lies in the title of his third album, “American Gypsy,” which clearly alludes to his musical affiliations and style.

If twelve-string guitar itself seems an unusual instrument, the same can be said for Jacob’s music. The 90-minute set included songs from his four releases, a mix of classical songs he jokingly referred to as “classical butcherings” and folk gypsy songs he has adapted to the 12-string guitar. Jacobs was very comfortable with his instrument and his performance was engaging. The songs were wonderfully fast-paced and intricate — it was easy to imagine them being played in gypsy groups in Spain and Eastern Europe. Because his playing style involved strumming, fingerwork, picking and guitar slaps, his sound, while distinct, was very characteristic of traditional European Gypsy music.

The audience seemed to really enjoy not only his musical style but also his inter-song banter. Jacobs made a point of filling the space between his songs with jokes and self-deprecating humor. When discussing his family’s non-musical background, he referred to his mother as saying she “wants me to become an oceanographer someday.” For the sake of his fans — and after Saturday, that number is growing — let’s hope it doesn’t work out.
 
  - The Oberlin Review


World Discoveries Review: D.C. DONOVAN, EDITOR
Worlddiscoveries
12424 Mill St.
Petaluma, CA 94952 USA

An Official Publication of
WorldDiscoveries.Net
Pacific Region Issue
January-March 2006*

American Gypsy 
by Neil Jacobs

 Nominated 'Album of the Year' by the American Independent Music Awards, Neil Jacobs' AMERICAN GYPSY is deserving of every honor it receives: the Eastern European gypsy tradition is deftly captured, along with overtones of jazz and even flamenco.

 Roma and folk traditions are presented in Neil Jacobs' own guitar styling compositions, supported on many pieces with the Ukrainian violinist Arkadiy Gips.

 AMERICAN GYPSY, unlike many traditional peasant productions, is apt to reach a wider audience than most: its flamenco styles will draw listeners of Spanish music, its classical precision will appeal to classical musicians, and its gypsy roots will attract Eastern European listeners who will find the blends surprising and refreshing.

 From flamenco to Hungarian gypsy cafe to near-Klezmer beats, AMERICAN GYPSY provides a host of ethnic-rooted, rollicking guitar songs.

 An outstanding production. - World Discoveries


Blue Moos
Blue Moos is a Libra Radio Blog

Friday, June 17, 2005

NEIL JACOBS soul of a Gypsy
I just received this "American Gypsy" CD from a superb 12 string guitar virtuoso Neil Jacobs himself. It fits perfectly into Libra radio music programme and i am proud to announce A DAY OF THE MUSICIAN with Neil Jacobs on Libra Radio starting on monday, 20.th of June 2005 at 10. am Central European time. There will be also a special one hour show with Neil's music at 1. am CET on 21. st of June. Thank you for sending the music to Libra Radio, Neil!
You can buy his music at CD Baby.

This is his story:

Neil Jacobs has had a colourful and unconventional musical career. Touring for mor than 25 years, he has performed in such diverse venues as the refugee camps of Sarajevo, the Kennedy Center for Performing arts and the Kremlin.
Of Irish & Macedonian descent, Neil was raised in Hinckley, Ohio. At a young age he developed an affinity for the guitar and taught himself to play. In the early 80's, Neil's group toured with Spyro Gyra, Alan Holdsworth and Jeff Lorber, appearing with perfomers like Herbie Mann, David Bromberg, Janis Ian, Flora Purim and Livingston Taylor. His growing fascination with Eastern European folk music drew him back to Europe. As a backpacker equipped with two 12 string guitars on the train in the early stages of the bloody Balkan war, Neil travelled to perform in the countries of what was once known as Yugoslavia. In 1994-95 Neil was selected as cultural representative to Spain, where he studied the gypsy music of Seville, and escorted by a gypsy guide, he experienced the real gypsy culture in the back-alley clubs.
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In 1996 he returned to the war-ravaged Balkans on a bus tour, performing for refugee camps & orphanages troughout Hungary, Croatia and Bosnia. The journey trough the bombed-out countryside was heart-wrenching for the 25 musicians and dancers living in cramped quarters on the extended tour. The purpose of the trip was to lift the spirits of the refugees and orphans by playing the music of their native villages which were all in ruins. At the end of the journey loomed the devastated city of Sarajevo, where the troupe was to perform a concert. In an amazing display of ingenuity, a great stage was erected in a matter of hours, complete with a massive sound system and lights. the tour culminated in an emotional farewell concert with the highly respected American Balkan music and dance ensemble "Zivili". After Sarajevo Neil struck out on his own southward trough Bosnia, this time encountering a dangerously divided country. Returning to the States, he completed his third CD, "American Gypsy", which earned him an Album of the Year nomination by the American Independent Music Awards.

Neil Jacobs is truly a master of the 12-string guitar. With his own style of playing that the St Louis Riverfront Times describes as "mesmerizing" and the Austin Chronicle describes as "the rockin'est since early Leo Kottke". Neil covers a full spectrum of styles and dynamics, touching on music diverse and varied as Gypsy, World, Balkan Folk, Jazz, and Fingerstyle guitar, while maintaining his own refreshing energetic style of playing. A self-taught musician, Neil draws inspiration from his world travels and experiences. His most recent focus includes the Gypsy music of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which is showcased in his third CD "American Gypsy", in which he draws from his first hand knowledge of Eastern European Gypsy, Balkan and World Folk music to create his riveting compositions.
posted by O.marian at 15:51


- Blue Moos


Secret Places

Neil Jacobs

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mike Jurkovic
(rnrcurmudgeon@yahoo.com)


On the Friday that Secret Places came in the mail for review, I had spent the week listening to a collection of Vivaldi's concertos and Sam Cooke. Now that's a wide spectrum no matter what demographic you poll, but Neil Jacobs took up his own place within it.

When most of us first encountered the 12-string, it was the clang-jangly shimmer of The Byrds. But, for over twenty-five years, this award winning performer and composer has toured the world, bringing a whole new emotional and spiritual virtuosity to the instrument. And, while on his travels, the musical languages he has encountered inspire his new disc.

Be it Ravel's Bolero or Tchaikovsky's Dance of The Sugar Plum Fairy Jacobs covers the world vibe on his extraordinary 12-string, fusing flamenco, Celt, Balkan, Greek, jazz and gypsy. Performances of Song of Vojvodina, Morning At Ragged Point, My Norman Rockwell, and Singing Dunes are crystalline moments where mind, heart, spirit and finger-picking ability meld, creating their own quiet space. With an ensemble of musicians playing exotic and familiar instruments, i.e.: stand-up bass, udu, violin, brac, and bugarja, this is perfect music for those snowy mornings and sunsets, those Sundays where it's just you and the music.

Other Neil Jacobs CDs are: American Gypsy, World Blue and the fusion energy of Cold Fish.

Track List:

Singing Dunes
Martin Eden
Train to Zanzibar
Ravel's Bolero
Misirlou
Kiss of the Gypsy
Song of Vojvodina
Morning at Ragged Point
My Norman Rockwell
Sympathy for Salieri
Jiffy Jig
Funeral March of a Marionette
Schadenfreude Blue
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Zlato Moje
Secret Places - F.A.M.E.


Discography

CD Releases:
American Gypsy, Secret Places, Cold Fish. & World Blue

Photos

Bio

Neil Jacobs is truly a master of the 12-string guitar. With his own style of playing that the St Louis Riverfront Times describes as "mesmerizing" and the Austin Chronicle describes as "the rockin'est since early Leo Kottke". Neil covers a full spectrum of styles and dynamics, touching on music diverse and varied as Gypsy, World, Balkan Folk, Jazz, and Fingerstyle guitar, while maintaining his own refreshing energetic style of playing. A self-taught musician, Neil draws inspiration from his world travels and experiences. His most recent focus includes the Gypsy music of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, which is showcased in his third CD "American Gypsy", in which he draws from his first hand knowledge of Eastern European Gypsy, Balkan and World Folk music to create his riveting compositions. The "American Gypsy" CD was nominated "Album of the Year" in the 2001 "American Independent Music Awards". Neil studied with the Gypsies of Spain as part of a special cultural exchange grant in 1994, the same year he was voted "Outstanding Folk Instrumentalist" at the Columbus Music Awards. He then resided in Seville, Spain for over a year before returning to Columbus. He then joined the acclaimed Balkan group, Zivili**, on an amazing refugee camp tour of the war-torn Balkans, including performances in Croatia, Bosnia, and Sarajevo. As a result of this experience, Neil produced his more pensive second CD, "World Blue". In 2003 accepted a temporary teaching position as Associate Professor of Gypsy/Balkan music and history at Alfred University in New York. In 2005 released the critically acclaimed solo CD, "Secret Places" . Neil is currently touring while also continuing work on his latest CD project.

Neil Jacobs has had a colorful and unconventional musical career. In 1984 his "fusion" group, Coldfish toured with acts such as Spyro Gyra, Alan Holdsworth, Janis Ian, Jeff Lorber, and the late Herbie Mann performing original music considered ahead of its time. The enigmatic debut CD is the product of this period. After disbanding the group in 1985, Neil began work on Academy Award winning filmmaker Will Roberts' film, "American Rebel", which deals with the incredible life of expatriated American and Eastern Bloc superstar, Dean Reed*. While attending the Moscow Film Festival in the Soviet Union, Neil was invited to perform for the legendary Russian composer, Tikhon Krennikov. Neil was thereby invited to stay in Moscow, performing at Moscow University, Mosfilm Studios, and Gorky Park, as well as being selected to represent the U.S. as a member of the Cultural Delegation to the World Youth Festival. During his extended stay in Moscow, Neil befriended Dean Reed, and later that fall fhey attended the Denver International Film Festival premier of "American Rebel". Dean invited Neil to Berlin in 1986 to perform on his popular yearly television special, "Mann Aus Colorado" (later to be re-named "Und Seine Lieder" after his untimely death). Neil's guest performance on the TV special was seen by audiences estimated in the hundreds of millions. This surreal Eastern Bloc Cowboy Show, “Und Seine Lieder”, proved to be Dean's final performance, for soon after he met with a mysterious and controversial death. Tom Hanks is now in negotiations with DreamWorks to topline and produce the studio's project, "Comrade Rockstar", based on the life of the late rocker Dean Reed.

When the collapse of the Eastern Bloc became imminent, Neil's fascination with Eastern European folk music drew him back to Europe. Traveling by train with a backpack and two 12-string guitars, Neil was invited to perform throughout Europe. He rode the trains to Poland to perform for Polish Army bases and school children of small villages in Northern Poland. Neil was invited to perform at the Bahaii Institute in Switzerland and later journeyed to Zagreb, Croatia during the early stages of the bloody Balkan war. He based out of Zagreb and rode the trains to perform in Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Macedonia. In 1992, Neil was invited the American Balkan music and dance ensemble, Zivili**, to compose and arrange Roma (Gypsy) inspired compositions. Neil continued performing with the group to study the rich musical heritage of the Southern Slavic nations. During this time, Neil became proficient at various authentic folk instruments including, prim, tambura, brac, and bugaria, while adapting rare Gypsy music to the 12-string guitar. Neil returned to the Balkans as part of an international cultural delegation to perform for displaced victims in refugee camps and orphans from the Balkan war. The tour culminated in a final emotional performance in war ravaged central Sarajevo. In 1996 Neil was invited to Hungary as special guest of the Secretary to the president to perform concerts in Budapest. In 2000 Later Neil traveled to Bulgaria with Zivili** as part UNESCO's "Balkan Youth Reclamation program" performing for youth groups of various Balkan co