Michael Eric Deak
Jazz Pianist, Jazz and Classical Composer
I was born in L.A. in 1942. My father was a concert pianist from Hungary who studied with
(and was close friends with) Bela Bartok, Zoltan Kodaly and two students of Franz Liszt. My
father died when I was three.I did not become interested in music till I was 18. I became a
vibist after hearing Milt Jackson, and persued the study of that instrument (had lessons for
about a year with Bobby Hutcherson) until I heard Bill Evans with Miles on "Kind Of Blue".
That was it; I switched to piano as my instrument.
Despite starting late on the piano, and not acquiring those fine motor skills developed by
young children, I have held my own because
of my harmonic sense and spontaneous composition abilities. Beginning about 1961, I
became interested in composition. In 1974, I began attending USC School Of Music in
composition. I was fortunate during that time to study one-on-one with Morten Lauridsen. I
continue to write both classical and jazz compositions to this day. As a pianist, I did most of
my work in L.A. playing jazz clubs, restaurants and small concert venues.
Interestingly, I've had more success with the classical work. I've won two competitions, was
a finalist in a competition in Greece in March, 2012. In July 2013, I won the American Prize for
music composition, chamber music division, and have been published, recorded and
broadcast. I moved to Gig Harbor, Washington nine years ago, and have yet to meet up with
good players here. Good players abound, but I've yet to find them. Still, I have a compulsion
to perform and write jazz; I trust things will improve.
My Jazz Story
I love jazz because... I first heard the MJQ then Bill Evans with Miles
I was first exposed to jazz... Through listening to "The Golden Striker" with the MJQ. I fell for
I met [musician name]... John Coltrane, Chick Corea, and many others, but spent real quality
time with Bill Evans.
The best show I ever attended was... Bill Evans with Chuck Israels and Paul Motion at the
Manne Hole in Hollywood.
The first jazz record I bought was... "No Sun In Venice" MJQ
My advice to new listeners... Give the music time; you won't understand it with just one or
two listenings. Repeated exposure is the best way to understand great art--be it visual,
literature or music.
Or whatever else you have in mind. Jazz covers all the emotions from rage to contemplative
spiritualism... there are choices available to everyone; give the music a chance.