Playing with Passion, Power, and Purpose.
“Young virtuosos are not always proof that the future of music is in good hands. Their yammering, often faster than
the speed of light to inform us that they have “heard” Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson or Errol Garner; Bird, ‘Trane or Sonny
Rollins and taken them to heart. But as the Great Bard once said, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/that
struts and frets his hour upon the stage/and then is heard no more. It is a tale/told by an idiot, full of sound and
fury/signifying nothing. There are indeed exceptions – albeit few and far between – and it is these musicians who
give hope to the future of music. Happily Mike Casey is one of these musicians. He seems not to brandish his tenor
saxophone as a weapon of war, but rather he makes music out of great gulps of air, which are delivered through its
reed, softened by the song. And he always makes you want to listen.”
— Raul da Gama, Jazz da Gama (Canada)
A lifetime passion for jazz began when Mike took to the saxophone like a fish to water in 5th grade. Eager to expand
his musical horizons, he attended the Greater Hartford Academy for the Performing Arts in high school, where he
studied in its sought-after jazz program, which trained notable alumni such as Jimmy Greene, Josh Evans, The Curtis
Brothers, and members of West End Blend & The McLovins.
He began attending the renowned Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford)
in 2011, where he studied with renowned jazz artists such as saxophonists Abraham Burton, Rene McLean, & Javon
Jackson, trombonist Steve Davis, and bassist Nat Reeves. Shortly before graduating in 2015, Casey was one of 24
young composers selected worldwide to participate in the prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the
Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where he studied with an all-star faculty including Eric Harland, JD Allen, Eric
Revis, Carmen Lundy, Andre Hayward, Cyrus Chestnut, and Jason Moran.
His resume includes performances with Charles Tolliver, DJ Logic, Nat Reeves, Benito Gonzalez, Brandee Younger,
Zaccai Curtis, Tarus Mateen, Duane Eubanks, and Marc Cary, whose project “The Harlem Sessions” features Casey as an
original member. Through his apprenticeship with Cary (which began two months after graduating from Hartt in
2015), he has performed at the NYC Winter Jazz Fest, Lincoln Center, NYC SummerStage, Ginny’s Supper Club, and
Cape May’s Exit Zero Jazz Festival. After selling out his NYC debut as a leader at the legendary Minton’s in September
2016, Casey went on to accomplish an incredible feat: his PledgeMusic crowdfunding campaign for “The Sound of
Surprise” reached 124% funded and was covered by leading music industry blogs such as Hypebot & CDBaby. "The
Sound of Surprise” was recorded in early 2016 at the Side Door in Old Lyme, Connecticut, which Downbeat Magazine
calls 'one of the best jazz clubs worldwide'.
Released February 7th, 2017, the album has been streamed over 500,000 times worldwide within the first year of
release (rare if not unheard of for a jazz debut without label backing), received international sales, airplay, and press,
including coverage from Spotify's 'State of Jazz', JAY Z's TIDAL, Deezer's Radio Jazz & New Releases, mentions from
icons Sonny Rollins & Quincy Jones Productions, NPR/WBGO, Jazz in Europe, Canada's Jazz da Gama, Argonauta (Italy)
Live for Live Music (album review / video premiere), plus digital & print features in nearly every major CT publication
including The Hartford Courant, The Day, New Haven Register, Connecticut Magazine, voted "Best Jazz" by the CTNow
Reader's Poll, "Hartford Handsome" by Hartford Prints, and one of Connecticut Magazine's "40 Under 40".
Mike's new single, an exciting, dynamic, modern re-imagination of The Beatles' Norwegian Wood (Live from Sofar
Sounds NYC); has already surpassed 300,000 streams worldwide since its 9/12/17 release. Mike also curated his
second official playlist for JAY-Z's TIDAL in conjunction with the release. Recent press includes Jazz in Europe
(Netherlands), Somewhere Soul (UK), and BRIC (NYC).
His trio's format is inspired (but not bound) by jazz icon Sonny Rollins, the pioneer of the "pianoless" saxophone trio -
which is evidenced in this 2014 video featuring Rollins and Casey in conversation.
Artistically, Mike wears his heart on his sleeve and aims to tell a story above all. Not one to rely on sizzle over
substance, his compositions and playing style focus on rhythm, melody, space, lyricism, dynamics, contrast,
communication and phrasing - not simply "displaying" skill for ego's sake - while delivering each musical statement
with power, honesty, and passion. Always searching deep within to communicate his emotions through art, he
believes strongly in the power of music to be a force of good in the world, connecting people through positive
vibrations. He has enchanted audiences young & old alike, performing his signature blend of upbeat, accessible,
original music and exciting arrangements of jazz and pop classics with mature lyricism and a formidable sound that
commands the attention of the listener. Mike loves to pose musical "questions" to the audience, keeping them
engaged, inquisitive, and above all, FEELING. He is also an experienced teaching artist and enjoys working with
serious students of all ages and skill levels. Mike's students have been selected for regional/all state competitions and
received scholarships to notable music schools.
Philanthropy through music has long been a focus of Mike's, dating back to his 7th grade Bar Mitzvah project where
he raised money for Little Kids Rock, a then-beginning (now national) organization focusing on bringing after school
music programs to schools where music classes had been cut. For his high school senior project, he recorded an
album, sold it, and donated the proceeds to Horns for Kids, a CT charity that fixes broken wind instruments and
donates them to schools in need. Most recently, he collaborated with Hartford based, innovative nonprofit The RiseUP
Group to produce his sold-out Hartford album release event (the concert doubled as a fundraiser for RiseUP, and was
featured in digital and print by The Hartford Courant & Connecticut Magazine.