Neal Itzler

Assistant Professor
617 747-8575

"Some people dwell on and debate whether or not to pursue music, but for me I just felt this was what I had to do. It was my passion; I just felt, mentally, that I had no alternative. When people asked, ‘What if it doesn’t work out? What is your fallback?’ there was no fallback. After my freshman year I spent my summer at Berklee and pretty much just stayed there. I wanted to be around more contemporary music as well as the straight-ahead jazz, and Berklee offered that eclectic background that you could really choose from. 

"I owe a great deal to my teachers at Berklee. Not only did I learn from them in class, but also they gave me the opportunity to work with them on the bandstand. I think that's what probably inspired me to want to be on the faculty. And, while I definitely continue to perform with colleagues, I love when I get the opportunity to hire a student for an occasion or club gig. The energy you get from younger musicians can make up for their lack of professional experience. 

"Miles Davis once said there only two kinds of music, good and bad. It could be jazz, funk, reggae, heavy metal—anything—but what it comes down to is good or bad. All the important elements in jazz—improvising, listening, and interacting—relate to all these styles. When I hear someone play, or when I play with someone, what’s important to me is how they interact and how they listen to the music. Good music always has that element. 

"It's also important to have compassion towards each other when you are playing music, just as it is in life. When people play together with compassion and respect, that winds up being reflected in the music at any level."

 

Career Highlights
  • B.M., Berklee College of Music
  • Full-time performer in metropolitan Boston and New York City areas
  • Appearances with Phil Collins, the Drifters, Noel Redding, Neil Sedaka, Najee, Roy Hargrove, Antonio Hart, and Layla Hathaway
  • Recently released After Hours, a CD with band Myanna