As a composer and musician, Michael Bates "serves up melodic modernism and contrapuntal elegance" ("Time Out, New York") and his influences range from Shostakovich, Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman to Bad Brains, Wayne Shorter and Joni Mitchell. Known as a both a leader and double bassist in several collectives, he has performed with Quinsin Nachoff, Russ Johnson, Michael Blake, Gerald Cleaver, Dan Weiss, Tyshawn Sorey, Greg Osby, Jeff Davis, Peter Van Huffel, Scott Dubois, Ohad Talmor, Michael Attias, Mike Murley, Shane Endsley, Michael Sarin, Reuben Radding and several others.
His debut CD Outside Sources was called one of the best albums of 2004 by Cadence Magazine editor Bob Rusch. His second album, A Fine Balance (2006) was also exceptionally received and garnered many effusive reviews including several "Best of 2006" designations. Released on the German based record label, Between the Lines, A Fine Balance contains ten compositions that combine exquisite melodies and contrapuntal textures with an organic and interactive approach to playing jazz.
Michael's latest recording is set for a fall 2008 release and will be available on trumpeter Dave Douglas' label Greenleaf. Mr. Douglas notes, "I whole-heartedly recommend taking special note in the Outside Sources project! Michael Bates is a fantastic bassist and an engaging composer. The new CD will feature several more contrapuntal pieces that have been described as "gems that manages to navigate that most difficult and rarely traveled road leading to accessible experimentation...always forward-thinking but also beautiful and within the grasp of even the most casual jazz fan. (Chris Watson, "The View").
Michael grew up in Canada and often worked at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Even though he was exposed to musicians such as Sun Ra, Thomas Chapin, the Clusone Trio and Dave Holland, he began playing music in hardcore and punk rock bands and maintains that being a jazz musician is no different. While the music he writes and performs is rooted in the jazz, classical and creative music traditions, hardcore's "Do It Yourself" ethos remains an important component of his music. He is well known as a hard worker and motivated performer.
Michael has recorded three CD's as a leader and over a dozen as a sideman. He has composed well over two hundred pieces of music including works for chamber ensembles, string quartets and solo double bass. As a touring artist, he has visited Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada. Michael has received several grants and fellowships from the Canada Council of the Arts and was on faculty for five years at the Banff International Jazz Workshop.