Charles Neal

Charles Neal began his musical journey at the age of 6 when he started taking lesson on piano. By the age of 9 his musical interest had encompassed the drums as well. Through the next few years Charles would play both instruments in school and church. He would play drums in the junior high jazz band (also piano as well) and concert bands.

In high school Charles developed his skills on classical percussion and mallet instruments. Furthermore, he explored jazz while playing in jazz band at the high school where he learned to be very proficient at the vibraphone. In the summers Charles attended the Lionel Hampton School of Music Summer programs at the University of Idaho. It was here his jazz drum chops were worked and sculpted. He was fortunate to play in (by audition only) the All Northwest jazz band and be featured as a soloist in the group on vibraphone. Also, he played in the All State Concert Bands for two years.

After high school, Charles attended Spokane Falls Community College where he started to concentrate more on the drum set. He began to develop his drum chops and technique. After a few years at Spokane Fall Community College, Charles made a move to Seattle to study business and entrepreneurship. He took a short break from music to build his business knowledge and professionalism.

In 1993 Charles moved back to Spokane, Washington to work and build his professional music career. He started to do freelance drumming and joined a rock-a-billy band call the Chrome Toasters. A few years later he joined a second group called Fuego. This Latin jazz group exposed him to Afro-Cuban and Brazilian music. After playing with the Chrome Toaster for 3 years, Charles left the group and started to pursue his own group. In 1995 Charles and a few other musicians formed a group call the Smooth Society, which was a small acid jazz/funk group. After a few months the group grew into a large ensemble, which consisted of a rapper, singer, horn section, and a rhythm section. The named was change to Like Family. This band was very successful in its first few years. The band released a demo album and played constantly in the area.

By the late 90s Charles felt the need to study and fine tune his musical skills He also felt he needed a change in atmosphere and location. In the fall of 1997 Charles was accepted to the Berklee College of Music on scholarship and moved to Boston. While at Berklee Charles’ musical sense blossomed and his musicianship matured. He embraced the musical freshness of the Berklee atmosphere and regained his confidence as a performer as well as a composer. During his final year at Berklee Charles was awarded the Elvin Jones Scholarship and in May of 2000 Charles graduated “Cum Laude” from the Berklee College of Music and moved to Portland, OR.

For the last 10 years Charles has lived in Portland working on a collaborative effort called East2West which opened up in the fall of 2004. The goal at East2West is to produce, record, and, perform music. This entity is a hub for musicians to get together and collaborate on music. Here in Portland Charles produced a powerful live Hip Hop group named QuiVaH which has received local and regional recognition with a following. Charles has played with many musicians in the northwest and is still actively playing. He is constantly working on many music projects, one such project is called Pound for Pound which is a Funk/Blues trio. Another one is called Opa Groupa which is a Balkan/Klezmer ensemble. Charles is constantly producing and performing music around the Portland area. Furthermore, he is at home in all aspects of the recording studio and loves to compose music. Charles is always on the quest to surround music in his life and is in line to live his passion for music.

© 2010 Charles Neal

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