Born in Dallas, Michael began piano studies at age six. Beyond his classical training, Weiss developed a quick ear picking out pop songs on the keyboard. At fifteen, he discovered the world of jazz at the Interlochen academy in Michigan. There Weiss studied arranging and subsequently penned several big band scores while in high school. He continued his studies at Indiana University while gaining invaluable bandstand experience with Indianapolis jazz veterans, Al Kiger and Pookie Johnson. After earning a bachelors degree, Weiss moved to New York and soon landed his first "name" gig with Jon Hendricks.
In the early eighties, Weiss was heard regularly as a member of the house band at the Star Cafe with Junior Cook. Engagements followed with the Junior Cook/Bill Hardman Quintet, Slide Hampton and Lou Donaldson. Weiss also had the opportunity to lead groups featuring such acclaimed soloists as David Fathead Newman, Pepper Adams, Frank Wess and Clifford Jordan.
Weiss first gained international exposure with the release of his debut recording, Presenting Michael Weiss (Criss Cross). It was awarded Stereo Review's "Best Recording of the Month" and was "Jazz Pick of the Year" on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. In 1987 Weiss began touring the USA regularly as a member of Johnny Griffin's quartet. Weiss' fifteen year association with the "little giant," which includes four recordings, has earned the pianist widespread critical recognition as a soloist, accompanist and arranger. In the Chicago Tribune, Howard Reich wrote that "whether playing ferociously fast right-hand lines or two-fisted blues chords, Weiss matched the tenor and tone of Griffin's work."
In addition to his work with Griffin, Weiss has served as accompanist to several jazz legends such as Art Farmer, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Charles McPherson, Frank Wess, Gary Bartz, the Jazztet, Jackie Paris, Tom Harrell and Al Foster. He also has extensive big band experience, performing with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks, Mingus Epitaph, and Vanguard Jazz Orchestras. Jazz at Lincoln Center has employed Weiss several times: as featured soloist in the PBS broadcast, Live From Lincoln Center: The City of Jazz, as commentator in Wynton Marsalis' NPR series, Making the Music, and as educator, conducting master classes for high schools competing in the annual Duke Ellington competition. Michael's commitment to jazz education is extensive. In addition to faculty positions at Queens College, Juilliard and the Hartt School of Music, Weiss' educational activities include serving as artist in residence in universities and secondary schools, presenting jazz workshops and master classes.