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Michael Weiss

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.

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Album Review

Michael Weiss: Homage

Read "Homage" reviewed by Pierre Giroux

In an age when instant gratification often reigns supreme, there is something refreshingly authentic about the leisurely process of refining musical ideas on the bandstand. Pianist Michael Weiss and his cohorts, bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Pete Van Nostrand, in this aptly titled release, Homage, embodies this organic approach to jazz, presenting a collection of compositions and arrangements that have evolved over years of performance. The session begins with “Un Petit Quelque Chose" (A Little Something), ...

Album Review

Michael Weiss: Persistence

Read "Persistence" reviewed by Edward Blanco

An in-demand veteran of the vibrant New York jazz scene since the '80s, pianist Michael Weiss presents the warm and engaging Persistence, his fifth as a leader and first on the Cellar Live label, as well as being his first since the critically acclaimed Soul Journey, (Sintra Records, 2003). The long time span between recordings, despite many other opportunities since then, was primarily due to the artistic and creative terms not being ideal enough until the Cellar Live proposal. One ...

Radio & Podcasts

New Releases From Michael Weiss, Ron Ledoux, Tim Berne & Gregg Belisle-Chi, and more

Read "New Releases From Michael Weiss, Ron Ledoux, Tim Berne & Gregg Belisle-Chi, and more" reviewed by Bob Osborne

On this week's show we feature an eclectic selection of brand new releases from Michael Weiss, Ron Ledoux, Tim Berne & Gregg Belisle-Chi, Hello Cacus!, Luneta Freedom Jazz Collective, In Real Time, Adam Shead and Manuel Valera New Cuban Express Big Band.Playlist Michael Weiss “Persistence" from Persistence (Cellar Live) 00:00 Ron Ledoux Quartet “Fourth Impression" from A Stones Throw Away (Self Released) 06:19 Tim Berne & Gregg Belisle-Chi “Frosty" from Mars (Intakt) 12:12 Hello Cacus! “For Petter" from ...

Catching Up With

Michael Weiss: Soul Journey

Read "Michael Weiss: Soul Journey" reviewed by Luke Seabright

Bebop is a complex craft, and like all crafts the only way to get any good at it is by learning from those who mastered it before you. Jamming through the night, getting on to that bandstand and firing away your best improvised lines, jousting with your partners (be they friends or strangers) like in the cutting contests of old. This is all part of the studious process that jazz musicians all over the world work their way to hone ...

Catching Up With

Michael Weiss: Building an Identity

Read "Michael Weiss: Building an Identity" reviewed by Luke Seabright

Michael Weiss is a jazz pianist and composer. His mastery of the hard bop style (he cites Horace Silver as one of his greatest influences), as well as his breadth of experience accompanying some of jazz's most acclaimed soloists, have made him a key figure in the New York jazz scene. His long-standing association with saxophonist Johnny Griffin has shaped him as an artist today. Here he discusses how playing with so many great players over the years has allowed ...


Soul Journey: Michael Weiss and the Art of Composition

Read "Soul Journey: Michael Weiss and the Art of Composition" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

Although he's spent a good deal of his career as a valued sideman, communing with such jazz masters as Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer, and Junior Cook, the time has arrived for pianist and composer Michael Weiss to make his own mark as one of the true original voices on the current jazz scene. In the past few years, this Dallas native has moved beyond his proficiency as an impeccable pianist to hone some considerable chops as a composer, taking home ...

Album Review

Michael Weiss: Soul Journey

Read "Soul Journey" reviewed by C. Andrew Hovan

It’s not often that you find jazz compositions of the caliber that Michael Weiss offers up on his own self-produced Soul Journey. But then, you have to consider that the pianist and composer did take home the grand prize in the Monk Institute’s Composers Competition in 2000. The second word in the title is actually a highly accurate clue to the complexity and variety of the forms, moving way beyond the typical methodology of head-solos-head. Furthermore, the front line sparkles ...

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"An articulate and polished pianist [demonstrating] a strong sense of leadership and organization" – New York Times "Shrewd writing and arranging skills as clearly in view as his sleek piano work" – The New Yorker "Weiss has a rich palette of composing devices at his command" – Downbeat "Warmth, integrity and above all, originality" – JazzTimes "Weiss is a vital talent with something important to say" – All About Jazz "Weiss’ compositions take on different shapes, great complexity and fresh perspectives" — Washington Post "A prodigious pianist and composer...

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Primary Instrument



New York City




Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Cellar Music group



Cellar Live


Soul Journey

Sintra Records


Soul Journey

Sintra Records



SteepleChase Records




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