Michael William Gilbert

Michael William Gilbert

Musicians | Instrument: Synthesizer | Location: Springfield

Updated: October 31, 2023

Born: August 17, 1954

Michael William Gilbert grew up in Connecticut and Brussels, Belgium. While living in Europe he first encountered the music of Varese, Stockhausen, and Pierre Henry, as well as music of India, Africa, and Japan. After studying electrical engineering at MIT, he continued studies in music at the Boston School of Electronic Music, later as a teacher and designer of synthesis systems. He graduated with a degree in music from Hampshire College, and shortly thereafter became the technical director of electronic music studios at Amherst College, Smith College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has since taught electronic music at Hampshire College, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Holyoke Community College. 

MW Gilbert has been composing and recording actively from the 1970's through the present. In 1978 he released his first LP, "Moving Pictures" (1978) with the goal of humanizing electronic music, using wooden flutes, percussion, and voice to complement synthesized sounds and textures. "The Call" (1980) grew out of a desire to set jazz-influenced solo lines against a backing of drone, percussion, and soundscapes. "The Call" marks MW Gilbert's first work with multi­-wind and reed player Tim Moran, experimental percussionist/vocalist David Moss, and acoustic bassist Salvatore Macchia. The LP "In the Dreamtime" (1982) features work with Moran, Moss, and Macchia, as well as master drummer Royal Hartigan. 

Moving to compact disc as one of the first indies to do so, MW Gilbert released "The Light in the Clouds" (1987), and "Point of Views" (1988). A collaboration with master percussionist Tony Vacca, bassist Salvatore Macchia, and synthesist Roy Finch, “The Light in the Clouds" brings together African, Jewish, Christian, and Shinto music traditions and melds them with crystal clear sounds and rhythms. "Point of Views" is a solo recording "an ethereal and beautiful blend!" "Point of Views" received 4 stars in Downbeat Magazine. It successfully creates the sound of an ensemble yet is a purely solo work, with only percussion by Tony Vacca on one track. Music from this repertoire was released in Canada by Penta Disc Recordings (WEA).

After a few breaks from recording, two new CD projects were released. "Other Voices" (2000), with more collaboration with Tony Vacca and Roy Finch. This was followed by "I Can See from Here" (2010), a complex weave of jazz, folk, electronic soundscape, world music, and electro­acoustic ambience. It features a track with guitarist and friend Peter Kaukonen (Black Kangaroo, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship, Johnny Winter). MW Gilbert's first three LP recordings, "Moving Pictures", "The Call", and "In the Dreamtime" were remastered and re­released on CD, making the complete catalog to date available again, on both disc and digital.

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“One of the best albums of pure musical bliss I have heard in a while is I Can See From Here by Michael William Gilbert. It is a breath of fresh air in today's musical landscape too often cluttered with the average. I Can See From Here gives new life to styles of music rarely, if ever, heard on modern radio. The songs are expertly crafted, and the flow of the album definitely had me wanting more at its finale. A very well timed release, potentially worthy of a 2011 Grammy nomination. - Cashbox “If the NPR radio show, Hearts of Space, were hipper and less ambient, it would fall over itself playing Michael William Gilbert's I Can See From Here…Gilbert approaches his task multi-focally, generating first a sonic-rhythmic landscape over which to spread his sound colors: everything from electric piano and Fender jazz bass, to vibraphone and human voices

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Times Like These

From: Saṃsāra
By Michael William Gilbert