I was born in New York City in 1951 and received my MA in Music from Queens College in 1992 where I studied with Jimmy Heath, Sir Roland Hanna, Thea Musgrave, Sol Berkowitz and Donald Byrd. I was the Margaret Lee Crofts Fellow at "The MacDowell Colony" in the summer of 2000 and received 2nd prize in the Monaco International Jazz Composition. In 2006 I was a Composer Fellow at Centrum Arts in Port Townsend, WA. I am a "Steinway Artist".
I have been and continue to be an active pianist/composer and band leader for the past 40 years. I have released over 90 cds of my original music on numerous jazz record labels including Leo Records (England), Drimala Records (VA), Soul Note Records (Italy), Konnex Records Germany), Music and Arts (CA), Cadence Records (NY), Red Toucan Records (Canada), GM Recordings (MA) 482 Music (NY), Unit Records (Switzerland), Nottwo Records (Poland), Cadence Jazz (USA), Playscape recordings, ForTune Records (Poland), Artist's Recording Collective (USA) and several other labels. Over 100 of my more than 350 original composed works have been recorded and are regularly broadcast throughout the world. My music has been featured in live radio concerts throughout Europe, Japan, South America and North America including BRTN (Belgium), Saarbrucken Rundfunk (Germany), WDR Radio (Germany), Radio Bremen (Germany), Radio Zurich (Switzerland), VPRO Radio Amsterdam (Holland), BRF Radio (Belgium), Danmarks Radio (Arhus, Denmark) and Radio Nurnberg (Germany).
I currently co-lead several working musical ensembles including The Fonda/Stevens Group, Conference Call, the Eastern Boundary Quartet, the Generations Quartet featuring Oliver Lake and several regional groups in and around my home town of Black Mountain, NC.
I frequently tour both Europe, Latin America and North America and have performed at numerous international jazz festivals including the Edgefest in Ann Arbor (MI), the Earshot Jazz Festival in Seattle (WA, the Hurth Jazznacht (Hurth, Germany), Guelph Jazz Festival (Canada), the Ottawa International Jazz Festival (Canada), Jazzmeille Thuringen (Germany), San Sebastian International Jazz Festival (Spain), Jazz Halo (Belgium), the Kaunas International Jazz Festival (Lithuania), Cerkno Jazz Festival (Slovenia) and many others.
Numerous Meet the Composer Grants;
MacDowell Artist Colony Fellow;
2nd Prize Monaco International Jazz Composition Contest;
Eubie Blake Scholars Award;
Semifinalist Heineken Jazz Contest;
Tennessee Arts Commission Travel Grant;
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts - Artist Roste
Steinway Piano Concert Artist
WNC Best Composer 2016
Recipient of 2017 Regional Artist Grant
Steinway Piano Concert Artist
Nord Electro IV keyboard
"Over the past fifteen years and the course of ten CD’s, the Fonda/Stevens Group
has evolved into one of Jazz/improvised music’s most accomplished ensembles.
Straddling the line between post-bob and free, they have come up with
consistently satisfying albums. What’s impressive is how these four create a
cohesive unit without grandstanding egos getting in the way."
~ Cadence Magazine
"Michael - You and your band are awesome. Several people came up to tell me
how your concert last week was one of the most enjoyable events they’ve ever
experienced at the Vermont Jazz Center; the music conveyed a deep sense of
purpose, humor and warmth, plus it was delivered with a superb sense of
musicianship and communication. Thank you for the gift!"
~ Eugene Uman, Artistic and Educational Director, Vermont Jazz Center, April 4,
Willing to teach
Intermediate to advanced
MA from Queens College in Jazz Performance.
I currently am adjunct faculty at Eastern Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN.
I was adjunct faculty at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN between 2007-2010. I was on the faculty
of Five Towns College between 1992-95, and was head of the keyboard
department at the National Guitar Workshop between 1990-2002 in New Milford,
CT. I have been guest clinician and artist in residence at numerous educational
institutions both here and abroad including the Royal Academy of Music in Arhus,
Denmark, "Centro Nacional de las Artes in Mexico City (Mexico), Arizona State
University in Tempe (AZ), SUNY at New Paltz (NY), Lichtenstein Big Band
Workshop in Eschen (Lichtenstein), Syracuse University (NY), The University of
Michigan (Ann Arbor), Indiana University (Bloomington), University of Iowa (Iowa
City), Northern Illinois University (DeKalb), University of Richmond (VA),
University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA, the University of Michigan, and most
recently conducted a workshop with vocalist Miles Griffith at Taler de Musics in
Barcelona, Spain as well as at the Pannonica Jazz club in Nantes, France (March