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Self-taught pianist and composer Jean-Michel Pilc has performed with numerous jazz giants including Roy Haynes, Billy Hart, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Jean Toussaint, Rick Margitza, Kenny Werner, Martial Solal, Michel Portal, Daniel Humair, Marcus Miller, Kenny Garrett, Lenny White, Chris Potter, John Abercrombie, the Mingus Dynasty & Big Band, Lew Soloff and Richard Bona, among others. He has also worked with Harry Belafonte as his musical director and pianist, and has performed a duet with the legendary opera singer Jessye Norman.
Jean-Michel’s renowned trio featuring bassist François Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig has released numerous standout recordings, including Together - Live at Sweet Basil and NYC - Vol.
1 & 2 (2000), Welcome Home (2002), Cardinal Points (2004) and Live at Iridium, NYC (2004). The group later released Threedom in 2010 after reforming under the collective name Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig.
An active solo performer who’s appeared in concert internationally, Jean-Michel has released four critically-acclaimed solo piano records: Follow Me (2004), Essential (2011) and What Is This Thing Called? (2015), and a new solo double album, Parallel, released on Challenge Records in June 2018.
In addition to extensive work as a sideman in a variety of ensembles, Jean-Michel’s diverse other personal projects include Modern Lights, a composition reflecting on Charlie Chaplin’s work that was premiered at the Caramoor Jazz Festival in August 2009. The project was funded through a New Works Grant from Chamber Music America. Additionally, in 2013, Jean-Michel was granted a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, in the Music Composition category for the creation of Big One, a project featuring all new original music for octet. He was also the subject of a 2009 documentary by filmmaker John McCormick, titled Jean-Michel Pilc – A Portrait.
Jean-Michel has built a strong international reputation as a very unique educator. From 2006 to 2015, he was a NYU Steinhardt faculty member and gave private lessons (piano and other instruments), taught ensemble classes and held improvisation workshops. He also acted as Co-Director of NYU Summer Jazz Workshop in 2010. Jean-Michel also taught for the New School in New York City, as well as offering private lessons in his own studio.
Since September 2015, Jean-Michel has acted as Associate Professor at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal. There, he teaches piano, jazz improvisation to all instruments and a Seminar on Improvisation in All Styles to 40 McGill jazz and classical students. He has acted as Schulich’s Jazz Area Chair between 2016 and 2018. During this time, Jean-Michel has also founded the Improvisation Workshop Project with Rémi Bolduc, Kevin Dean and Jean-Nicolas Trottier, a research project funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Société et Culture (FRQSC). He is now part of many Montreal-based projects, while continuing to perform solo and with NYC-based groups.
Over the years, Jean-Michel has also released a book titled It's About Music - The Art and Heart of Improvisation (Glen Lyon) and educational videos such as True Jazz Improvisation (JazzHeaven), Transcending the Instrument (JazzHeaven), Improvisational Fluency (MyMusicMasterclass.com) and Anatomie d'un standard (iMusic School). He also releases improvisation tutorials on Patreon.