Neal Humphreys, Traditional Cello
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Neal Humphreys

Traditional Cello

Neal HumphreysNeal Humphreys, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, began his cello studies at the age of eight. Over the years, he has performed throughout the United States as well as abroad in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan and has spent countless hours in recording studios and sessions throughout the northeast.

A cellist-explorer-adventurer, Humphreys is in constant search of different musical avenues for his instruments. In high school, Humphreys played in a Pink Floyd cover band founded by his high school English teacher. This foray into alternative application of a “traditionally classical” instrument carried through his undergraduate and graduate years of playing not just classical, but jazz, punk, hip hop, and other genres. As an undergraduate student at The Hartt School, whenever possible, he would take his cello to Professor Nat Reeves’s jazz combo in order to familiarize himself with the “language” of jazz.

In late 2005, thanks to his friend and mentor Nat Reeves, Humphreys was connected with renowned jazz saxophonist Kenny Garrett in order to hash out some string parts for an upcoming album. This experience allowed him the privilege to rehearse and/or record alongside Garrett, Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Hutcherson, Mulgrew Miller, Robert Hurst III, Brian Blade, Jonathan Gandelsman, Wang Guowei, and Hartt School percussion faculty Rogerio Boccato. Kenny Garrett’s Beyond The Wall was released in 2006, and subsequently, was nominated for a Grammy® Award in the best jazz instrumental album category.

An avid chamber musician, Humphreys has received awards in chamber music competitions and programs, including the New England International Chamber Music Competition, and was a recipient of The Hartt School’s Alfred Akon Cohn Award for Excellence in Chamber Music.

Humphreys received both his Bachelor and Master’s degrees in cello performance (the latter with an emphasis in chamber music) from The Hartt School. His principal cello teachers include Steven Thomas, David Kadarauch, Colin Hampton, and Barbara Wampner. His playing can be heard on roots-rock artist Jim Lampos’s independent release Entangled States and Nonesuch Records. His fake-playing can be seen briefly in the 20th Century Fox motion picture Bride Wars as the string quartet cellist. He attributes much of his musical influence to his parents, his brother Keith, friends, teachers, and summers spent working at Tower Records in Greenbrae, Calif.