Michael has been performing and composing music for over 40 years (classical piano and violin throughout childhood and music composition studies with avant-gardist Robert Stewart in college). A former philosophy graduate student, he abandoned that path to study jazz improvisation both academically and by playing with the leading lights of the Virginia jazz scene in the 1980s. Appeared with the Tim Eddy Trio in legendary French film director Frederic Rossif's, Coeur des Musiciens in 1985. Since then, he has performed and recorded with DMB saxophonist, LeRoi Moore's Basics, Offering (with multi-instrumentalists TIm Reynolds and Worth Proffitt), Chapman Stick master Greg Howard, bassist Lenny Martin, trumpeter John D'earth, Dave Matthews Band, guitar virtuoso Tim Reynolds, among many others. Sokolowski's instrumental trio (with bassist Houston Ross and drummer extraordinaire Johnny Gilmore), Soko, was a vital part of Charlottesville's musical landscape for most of the '90s. The band, now with Nir Z as drummer, plans a 2009 release of its third CD.
Band: Formed in 1990 as a piano/bass/drum trio playing the compositions of pianist Michael Sokolowski, Soko (formerly, Third Ear) was, in a sense, a proto-jam band, exploring far-flung improvisation via jazz-influenced rock instrumentals. The band (Sokolowski, with Houston Ross & Johnny Gilmore on bass and drums, respectively) worked relentlessly, honing a sophisticated ensemble rapport where set lists and stock arrangements weren't needed and the trio felt free to disappear into the rabbit hole of the moment, musically reinventing itself every night and developing a strong relationship with its audience. For six years, it remained an underground or best kept secret kind of band within a very exciting and creatively fertile Charlottesville music scene. When hitting the road, Soko never failed to turn enthusiastic new listeners on to its fresh and compelling melodic grooves. Many artists sat in with the band, including many appearances by saxophonist LeRoi Moore, Stickist Greg Howard, percussionist Darrell Rose, and guitarist Tim Reynolds.