Ever since he graduated from Berklee in 2004, bassist Michael Oien has been an important part of the New York jazz scene, appearing on a countless number of dates as a sideman. Recently he recorded his debut as a leader, the consistently creative And Now for Fresh Sound’s New Talent label. “This is my most important artistic statement so far,” says Michael, “writing my own music and recording it with my own band.”
And Now has Michael Oien utilizing some of his favorite musicians. “In sidemen, I look for players with individual sounds who are flexible, and musicians who concentrate less on the technical aspects of their instruments and more on expressing themselves in the music.” The CD features six of Michael’s post bop originals performed by a quintet that also includes altoist Nick Videen (“A great all-around musician with a huge sound”), guitarist Matthew Stevens, pianist Jamie Reynolds and drummer Eric Doob. The music, which includes such inventive pieces as the picturesque “In The Early Autumn,” the exhilarating “Mad To Live,” the quietly passionate “Smile This Mile” and the three-part “Dreamer,” is forward-looking and adventurous while also being accessible and swinging.
Michael Oien was born in Silver Spring, Maryland, growing up in Ashland, Wisconsin. He played several instruments as a youth including the guitar and piano. While he was a guitarist in rock bands as a teenager, he began to focus more on the bass when he was in middle school, playing with the school orchestra. “While growing up, I listened to everything…Ray Charles, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry…a lot of rock and roll. My parents listened to jazz and there was always music playing in our house. When I was around 12, the school orchestra teacher took all of the bass players down to Madison, Wisconsin for a workshop with Richard Davis which made a big impact on me.”