|GROUP THERAPY was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.
GROUP THERAPY finds Jim McNeely fast becoming the premier big band arranger of his generation. The pianist offers up eight compositions, each invoking the rich possibilities of large-ensemble jazz. Not technically a big band, this top-flight tentet has the improvisational latitude of a combo, yet in McNeely's hands, they have the have all the muscle of a 17-piece jazz orchestra.
We hear five McNeely compositions on GROUP THERAPY. In addition, "The Fruit" by Bud Powell, "Village Blues" by John Coltrane, and the Green/ Heyman standard "Body and Soul" all receive fresh reworkings here. Clearly though, it is the title track that embodies the concept of this album. The idea on this track was to structure a musical conversation (or confession) between the musicians. This created an environment that encouraged more relaxed and animated improvisations. Acting as moderator, McNeely governs the overall movement of the piece through his deft arranging skills. A unique musical exploration, GROUP THERAPY is one of McNeely's best to date.
...McNeely has an agile band that allows him to show off all of his tuneful goods at once...
Jazz Times (05/01/2001)
Jim McNeely (piano); Billy Drewes (soprano, alto & tenor saxophones, flute, clarinet); Dick Oatts (soprano & alto saxophones, flute); Scott Robinson (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet); Tony Kadleck, Greg Gisbert, Scott Wendholt (trumpet); Tom Varner (French horn); Ed Neumeister (trombone); Cameron Brown (bass); John Hollenbeck (drums)