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Spike Wilner

Michael “Spike” Wilner was born in New York City and started playing piano at an early age.  He was inspired by a television program about the life of Scott Joplin to learn to play Ragtime Music.  He perused this art form throughout high school and performed Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” at the St. Louis Ragtime Festival.  Although it was an informal appearance it, nonetheless, profoundly affected him and drove him to peruse a career in music.  In his high school jazz program he met pianist Peter Martin who introduced him and inspired him to learn more modern jazz.

Wilner decided to enter into the New School For Social Research’s Jazz and Contemporary Music department, which was then in it’s first year.  Headed by the late saxophonist Arnie Lawrence, this was an experimental forum where young jazz musicians were introduced to masters and left on their own to interact and play together.  In this fertile musical environment Wilner met and became friends with many of today’s leading jazz musicians.  Students at that time included: Peter Bernstein, Jesse Davis, Larry Goldings, Brad Mehldau, Roy Hargrove, Sam Yahel, Joe Strasser and many others.  It was there that Wilner had the good fortune to become the student of the late pianist Walter Davis Jr. as well as the late great Jaki Byard.  At this same time Wilner became involved at the Jazz Cultural Theater under the direction a Barry Harris and spent several years studying there.

It was also at this time that Wilner began to work professionally on the New York City jazz scene.  He began to play gigs in the various clubs and throughout the years has held down many steady engagements in well-known clubs.  Wilner was a house pianist at the legendary, now defunct, Village Gate as well as other long-gone clubs such as Visiones, The Angry Squire and The Village Corner. In 1995, Wilner became involved with the jazz club Smalls under the direction of owner Mitch Borden.  At Smalls, Wilner has developed his music and his career.  He recorded a live record there “Late Night: Live At Smalls (Freshsound Records)” and now currently performs there each Sunday evening with his sextet, Planet Jazz.

During his last 15 years, Wilner has played with many names now well known in jazz such as: Peter Bernstein, Joe Magnarelli, Grant Stewart, Jesse Davis, Eric Alexander, Jim Rotundi, Joe Farnsworth, Bob Mover, Ian Hedrickson-Smith, Ryan Kisor, Steve Davis, Ralph Lalama, Paul Gill, Neal Miner, Joe Strasser, Ari Roland, Chris Byars, Sherman Irby, Joel Frahm, Omer Avital, Stephon Harris and many others. Other professional work has included tours with the Artie Shaw Orchestra, the Glenn Miller Orchestra and a European tour with Maynard Furgeson's ”Big Bop Nouveu” band. Wilner has toured extensively in France as part of the Xavier Richardeau quintet.  In Paris he has also worked with bassist Pierre Boussaguet and trombonist Sarah Morrow. Wilner participated in two Thelonious Monk Piano Competitions, one in 1989 as a finalist and one in 1993 as a semi-finalist. Wilner has worked with Wynton Marsalis on a ballet piece composed by Wynton and choreographed by Zhongmei Li that was performed at the Library of Congress. Wilner currently works and records with Washington D.C. vibraphone legend Lennie Cuje. He has also worked as rehearsal pianist with singer Tony Bennett and has recorded with Duke Ellington alumni Milt Grayson.

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15
Album Review

Spike Wilner Trio: Contrafactus

Read "Contrafactus" reviewed by Pierre Giroux


Pianist Spike Wilner, bassist Paul Gill and drummer Anthony Pinciotti have crafted an exquisite jazz listening experience in their release Contrafactus. Recorded in a single session, with only one take at GB's Juke Joint, the spontaneity and cohesion of the trio are manifest throughout the eleven compositions which seamlessly blend Wilner's original compositions with some better-known standards. The album opens with a Wilner original, “At First Blush," which is a lively and infectious swinger. Wilner dashes ...

37
Album Review

George Coleman: Live At Smalls Jazz Club

Read "Live At Smalls Jazz Club" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Tenor saxophonist George Coleman, one week past his eighty-seventh birthday when Live at Smalls Jazz Club was recorded in March 2022, has not yielded an inch to Father Time, skating up and down his horn with the awareness and agility of someone many years his junior. It is entirely appropriate that this album should be a part of the Smalls Living Legend series, as Coleman easily qualifies for that honor. Before appraising the music, a brief side ...

7
Album Review

George Coleman: Live At Smalls Jazz Club

Read "Live At Smalls Jazz Club" reviewed by Pierre Giroux


If you are an aficionado of tenor saxophonists with a big, bold, biting tone who can run changes in the blink of an eye, then George Coleman is your man. Now in his 88th year, over the course of his long career, he has had a gamut of experiences including B.B. King (1952/1955-56), Max Roach (1958-59), Slide Hampton (1959-61) and Miles Davis (1963-64). His discography both as a leader/co-leader as well as a sideman covers a panoply of well-known jazz ...

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Album Review

Jesse Davis: Live at Smalls Jazz Club

Read "Live at Smalls Jazz Club" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Alto saxophone master Sonny Stitt always chafed when he was called “little Bird," a reference to the greatest alto of them all, Charlie Parker. “I'm not a little Bird," he would say, “I'm me; Sonny Stitt." In similar fashion, Jesse Davis would probably shrug off any comparison to another of the instrument's esteemed patriarchs, the late Julian “Cannonball" Adderley. Even so, such a connection is hardly misplaced. To some ears, Davis is the nearest thing to Cannonball since...well, Cannonball himself. ...

8
Album Review

Spike Wilner Trio: Plays Monk & Ellington

Read "Plays Monk & Ellington" reviewed by Pierre Giroux


There have probably not been two more disparate individuals in jazz than the pianists Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk. Ellington was a florid individual in all aspects of his life, with his speaking style, his sartorial choices, and his compositions which were informed by ever-growing inspirational sources. In contrast, Monk was introverted and generally uncommunicative; his compositional style was linear and succinct, and he was generally more comfortable playing his own material. Pianist Spike Wilner, who had great admiration for ...

36
Album Review

Spike Wilner Trio: Plays Monk & Ellington

Read "Plays Monk & Ellington" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Not to mince words, this is a splendid album by New York-based pianist Spike Wilner and his trio, recorded in January 2022 at GP's Juke Joint, which must double as a recording studio, as there is no audience. No matter the venue, it is difficult to wander too far astray when playing the music of Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington, even though the album could have been called Plays Monk & Ellington & Strayhorn as the last two numbers, “U.M.M.G." ...

8
Album Review

The Spike Wilner Trio: Aliens & Wizards

Read "Aliens & Wizards" reviewed by Jack Bowers


Spike Wilner, generally noted in his native jny: New York City as an excellent jazz pianist, is even more widely known as proprietor of two of the city's leading jazz clubs, Smalls and Mezzrow. Though hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Wilner has soldiered on, presenting live music whenever possible and forming the SmallsLIVE Foundation, a non-profit arts group dedicated to creating and propagating jazz in New York through recordings, live streaming, archiving, educational initiatives and live performances. Wilner's foundation ...

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5

Interview

Spike Wilner On Playing For Listeners

Spike Wilner On Playing For Listeners

Source: Rifftides by Doug Ramsey

Spike Wilner is a pianist who operates two jazz clubs in jny: New York City with his partners Chris Borden and Lee Kostrinsky. Smalls and Mezzrow are within a short walk of one another in Greenwich Village. They present familiar artists like Lew Tabackin, Frank Lacy, Pete Malinverni, Johnny O'Neal and Wilner himself, as well as those emerging in the jazz community—trumpeter Phillip Harper, pianist Ehud Asherie and singer Marianne Solivan among them. Of Small’s, The New Yorker wrote: This ...

338

Performance / Tour

Smalls Live, A New Jazz Label Founded By Smalls Jazz Club Owner Spike Wilner, Captures The Essence Of New York's Storied Jazz Club On Disc

Smalls Live, A New Jazz Label Founded By Smalls Jazz Club Owner Spike Wilner, Captures The Essence Of New York's Storied Jazz Club On Disc

Source: DL Media

Features Five Upcoming Releases By Jimmy Greene, Ari Hoenig, Omer Avital, Ben Wolfe and Wilner, Available on October 12 With the launch of its new record label, Smalls Live, Smalls Jazz Club throws open its doors, inviting a worldwide audience into the intimate confines of the Greenwich Village club. Since it opened in 1993, Smalls has become a hothouse for modern jazz, where up-and-coming musicians can hone their craft before an enthusiastic crowd, and veteran artists can stretch out in ...

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Performance / Tour

Spike Wilner Planet Jazz Sextet at The Jazz Standard Tuesday, September 26th

Spike Wilner Planet Jazz Sextet at The Jazz Standard Tuesday, September 26th

Source: Jim Eigo, Jazz Promo Services

Planet Jazz Sextet

featuring

Joe Magnarelli - trumpet Grant Stewart - tenor Peter Bernstein - guitar Spike Wilner - piano Neal Miner - bass Joe Strasser - drums

live at

The Jazz Standard TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th 116 E. 27th Street (212) 576- 2232 shows at 7:30 & 9:30 $20 cover http://www.jazzstandard.net

featuring music from their new cd Planet ...

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Music

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Contrafactus

Cellar Music Group
2024

buy

Live at Smalls Jazz...

Cellar Records
2023

buy

Live At Smalls Jazz...

Cellar Music group
2023

buy

Plays Monk & Ellington

Cellar Records
2022

buy

Plays Monk & Ellington

Cellar Music Group
2022

buy

Aliens & Wizards

CellarMusic
2021

buy

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