Born in 1960 in Paris, and now an American citizen, self-taught Jean-Michel Pilc has performed with numerous musical giants such as Roy Haynes, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Kenny Garrett, Lenny White, Chris Potter, John Abercrombie, Mingus Dynasty & Big Band and Richard Bona. He also worked with Harry Belafonte as his musical director and pianist.
Jean-Michel Pilc moved to New York City in 1995. There, he formed a trio with François Moutin (bass) and Ari Hoenig (drums). They recorded a one-week engagement at the legendary jazz club Sweet Basil and, in 2000, released two CDs: Jean-Michel Pilc Trio - Together - Live at Sweet Basil, NYC - Vol. 1 & 2 (A- Records).
Pilc then signed a record deal with Dreyfus Jazz. Pilc's first album for Dreyfus, Welcome Home (featuring the same trio), was released in 2002. Pilc's next recording for Dreyfus, Cardinal Points, was released the following year. It featured Jean-Michel's extended work "Trio Sonata," which was created with generous support from Chamber Music America's New Works: Creation and Presentation Program, funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
In 2004, Jean-Michel released his first solo album, Follow Me (Dreyfus). Jean-Michel Pilc then went back to a trio format to record Live at Iridium, NYC, in 2004 and New Dreams in 2006, both for Dreyfus Jazz. His latest release is titled True Story on Dreyfus Jazz and features Pilc with Billy Hart on drums and Boris Kozlov on bass.
In the last decade, Jean-Michel has toured intensively worldwide, performing trio and solo as well as teaching clinics and master classes. In 2006, Jean-Michel was appointed jazz educator at New York University, where he is involved in private lessons (piano and other instruments), ensemble classes and improvisation workshops. He’s also teaching for the New School & Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY, and privately as well.
In 2009 Pilc received his second New Works: Creation and Presentation Grant from Chamber Music America. His new project has been the writing and performance of “Modern Lights” – a composition reflecting Charlie Chaplin’s work, and the inspiration Pilc has gained from Chaplin's movies. The project was premiered at the Caramoor Jazz Festival in August of 2009.
Currently, there is a new documentary out by John McCormick about Jean-Michel titled “Jean-Michel Pilc – A Portrait” which was released in the U.S. in 2009. In 2010 Jean-Michel toured with his trio featuring bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Billy Hart in celebration of the new release True Story.
2011 will see Jean-Michel Pilc touring with his earlier collaborators, Francois Moutin and Ari Hoenig as Pilc Moutin Hoenig following the release of their CD on Motema Music. Pilc is also currently working on a pedagogical book about jazz and improvisation.
As if Pilc is not creating enough these days, he is also working on a new septet project titled "Big One," along with a brand new quartet project titled "Together," co-led by Jean-Michel, François Moutin, Ari Hoenig and Joel Frahm, a solo CD to be released on Motema Music followed by a solo tour, and another solo project with piano and whistling.
“A dazzlingly inventive pianist.” Nate Chinen, The New York Times
“Mr Pilc seems to have dropped from the sky fully formed, with technique and his ideas in place. He is a physical and densely harmonic player, a splashy stunner who also has a Rubik's-cube mind for chord substitutions.” Ben Ratliff, The New York Times
“...visual art references come to mind: Cubist renderings of melody in which the original is reshaped into a completely different visual perspective; the shimmering opaqueness of Impressionism in some of Pilc's lush harmonies..." Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times
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