Neal studied Physics at Balliol College, Oxford before coming to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music. An interest in jazz music gradually gave way to a full time commitment to it and Neal now plays with many top musicians in London's jazz venues as well as teaching. Neal's regular performances include cabaret accompaniment for many singers, duo concerts with guitarists Jim Mullen and Richard Bolton, as well as his weekly spot at the Soho Pizzeria on Thursday nights with "Men from Up North". In his many cross style collaborations he has appeared in concert with Paul McCartney, has toured with Indian/Jazz singer Najma, and performed with Griff Rhys Jones and Janie Dee.
As arranger and composer he has produced three albums with Sally Burgess and three stage shows including Something Wonderful, a Richard Rodgers centenary tribute with orchestra and chorus, for Opera North and ENO in 2002 and Harold Arlen – who? for the Barbican in 2003. He presents a concert programme with Willard White - “Paul Robeson ReExplored" which has been broadcast by the BBC, performed with CBSO and RPO, and an album of the material, The Paul Robeson legacy (Linn records), was produced by Neal. This features an all-star band of musicians including Guy Barker on trumpet. His first opera “Sonya’s story” based on Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya was premiered at the Tete a Tete opera festival in 2010 and his latest stage show recreates the Benny Goodman sextet of the 1940’s with young clarinet star Julian Bliss.