JazzFest History

Neal Creque

Awarded: 2001
Born: Virgin Islands

"Neal, that’s my cat. From the Virgin Islands...you could hear the islands in his music. You could hear it."

- Ernie Krivda


Born Earl Neal Creque, the Virgin Island native established himself as a pianist of virtuosic ability in early childhood. His is remembered for his mastery and for his generosity as an artist and a teacher. Moving to Pennsylvania to attend college, Creque later relocated in New York to pursue Latin jazz and immediately became a sought-after session player. He recorded on numerous LPs with an array of world-class artists, including Stanley Turrentine, Theresa Brewer, Mongo Santamaria, Leon Thomas, Quincy Jones, and was also the musical director for vocalist Carmen McRae. In 1973, Creque moved to Cleveland where he became a prolific composer and arranger. He was unabashedly supportive of the Cleveland jazz scene and shared his passion for music by teaching at Tri-C and Oberlin. Creque was a renowned member of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra until his death.

Neal's Story