Pianist Michael Weiss, grand prize winner of the 2000 BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute Composers Competition, has established a formidable reputation working with such names as Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer and Wynton Marsalis. In addition to his demand as a sideman, Weiss’ role as bandleader, recording artist, composer, arranger and educator have earned him accolades from both audiences and critics. Born in Dallas, Michael began piano studies at age six. Beyond his classical training, Weiss developed a quick ear picking out pop songs on the keyboard. At fifteen, he discovered the world of jazz at the Interlochen academy in Michigan. There Weiss studied arranging and subsequently penned several big band scores while in high school. He continued his studies at Indiana University while gaining invaluable bandstand experience with Indianapolis jazz veterans, Al Kiger and Pookie Johnson. After earning a bachelors degree, Weiss moved to New York and soon landed his first “name” gig with Jon Hendricks. In the early-nineties Weiss began focusing greater attention to composition. He formed a sextet which served as a workshop for developing his new arrangements. His current septet headlined at the 2000 Detroit International Jazz Festival and was featured on NPR’s Jazzset. Other notable engagements include the Smithsonian Institution and NYC’s Blue Note. In 2002, Weiss was awarded Chamber Music America’s New Works: Creation and Presentation grant to compose a new extended work for the septet. Debuting in 2006 as a leader at the Village Vanguard, “he demonstrated a strong sense of both leadership and organization,” said the New York Times. Weiss’ four recordings have received unanimous critical acclaim. Stereo Review devoted a feature review to his debut album, Presenting Michael Weiss (Criss Cross). Power Station (DIW) was selected as one of the top five releases of 1997 by JazzTimes, in which Sid Gribetz said, “Weiss’ originals sound as if they were standards of the genre.” In Fanfare, Royal S. Brown wrote, “Weiss’ consummate command of the piano shows throughout the album.” According to the British magazine Jazz Journal, Milestones (SteepleChase) contains “splendid music on every track…piano playing of the highest order.” His 2003 release, “Soul Journey” (Sintra) features a collection of all original compositions for septet including the award winning, “El Camino.” As Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press writes, “the songs simply smoke.” The Django opens for small plates and craft cocktails at 7pm. Live music Wednesday- Saturday 8pm-late
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