After graduating summa cum laude from Northern Illinois University with a bachelors' degree in jazz guitar performance, Neal moved to Chicago in 1995 and has since freelanced here as a jazz guitarist. Neal has performed or recorded with Lin Halliday, Howard Levy, Luciano Antonio, Don Stiernberg, Under the Streetlamp, Ed Thigpen, George Fludas, and most notably, singer/pianist Patricia Barber. Neal has toured Europe, the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Russia, and South Korea with Patricia and he is featured on her Blue Note Records releases Verse (2002), Live: A Fortnight in France (2004), Mythologies (2006), and The Cole Porter Mix (2008). Neal has also appeared on recordings by Chicago-based musicians/groups including Matt Geraghty, Chicago Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble, Typhanie Monique, Bad Sneakers Orchestra (Steely Dan tribute), William Kurk Experience, Keri Johnsrud, and Brian Gephart.
Neal’s newest project as a leader is a trio dedicated to performing several varieties of Brazilian music (samba, choro, baiao, frevo, etc.). Past projects have included a BLUE NOTE QUARTET which unearthed classic and obscure compositions from the legendary Blue Note jazz record label and an original rock band NEEDLES IN THE RED in which Alger sang, played guitar, and composed all of the music and lyrics.
With four CD’s as a leader or co-leader, Alger is assembling material for a long-awaited new recording set for release in late 2018. Here and Now, There and Before (2001), Neal’s first recording, contains original compositions and unusual cover material. The next 3 releases were co-led by vocalist Typhanie Monique and grew out of the unique duo project that Typhanie and Neal shared in the mid-2000’s: Intrinsic (2004), In This Room (2007), and Yuletide Groove (2008).
Neal is passionate about jazz education and has presented workshops at various universities in the Midwest. Two of Neal’s favorite topics to present are Pentatonics and Fourths in Jazz Improvisation and How to Create a Jazz Arrangement of a Pop/Rock/R&B Tune.
Along with his performing activities, Neal also maintains a full teaching schedule with guitar instruction at Roosevelt University and Elmhurst College.