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Michael Wolff Trio

Piedmont Piano Company is pleased to present


Michael Wolff Trio

Pianist Michael Wolff will be playing music from his trio record Swirl , on Sunnyside Records. He is very happy to be playing this concert with a couple of amazing musicians he began playing with in the Bay Area many years ago, bassist Peter Barshay and drummer Mike Clark.

$20 General Admission

Pianist-composer Michael Wolff is thrilled to be performing and recording again, having gone through a trying process of physical and mental rehabilitation, during a four-year battle with a rare cancer. At one point, as Wolff was being cared for by his wife, the award-winning actress, director and writer Polly Draper, a doctor asked her if she’d signed a Do Not Resuscitate order. Through the haze of drugs and debilitating illness, Wolff interjected. Lifting his head up, he growled: “Resuscitate me!”

“I guess it just wasn’t my time,” he recalls today, chuckling.

Indeed, Wolff had plenty more life to live and music to make—including Swirl, his radiant new Sunnyside piano-trio album featuring bassist Ben Allison and drummer Allan Mednard. Now 66 and completely free of cancer (and cancer medications), Wolff has seen his personal and creative outlook transform in the profound way that occurs only in those who have been, as the pianist puts it, “to the brink and back.” “My view of life, art and music has changed, developed, matured, widened and focused simultaneously,” says Wolff, who continued to practice and compose diligently throughout his fight. “I savor every day, every view, every person I love and every note I can play and hear.”

Swirl certainly bears out Wolff’s newfound appreciation for life’s lucid, unpretentious joys. “A lot of my priorities changed,” he says. “With my music, I still want it to be exciting, but I also really want everything to sound beautiful.” The essential component of that beauty lies in the pianist’s writing and arranging, which is at once inventive and evocative of your favorite jazz LPs. But an equally crucial reason why Swirl sounds so buoyant and brilliant is the rapport shared among the trio-mates—comfortable and flowing yet full of musical risk-taking, and always interactive. “I like to play with people I love; that’s really important to me,” Wolff says. “That vibe needs to be up there on the bandstand.” When it clicks, Wolff adds, the duties of a bandleader can feel effortless: “Having a group to me is like casting a movie: If you have the right people, you don’t have to say much. You just kind of do the work.”

A veteran bassist who has established a strong reputation over the years from his sideman work on both the New York City and San Francisco Bay Area jazz scenes, Peter Barshay has performed with such jazz luminaries as Kenny Barron, Freddie Hubbard, Sonny Stitt, Kenny Werner, Shirley Horn, Woody Shaw, Pharoah Sanders, Blue Mitchell, Tony Williams, Joe Henderson, Joe Lovano, Johnny Griffin and Bobby McFerrin. Barshay’s numerous appearances at clubs and jazz festivals have taken him around the world, helping to establish his reputation as a solid, reliable bassist. Having soaked up a lifetime of sounds on both coasts -everything from salsa and straight ahead to funk-fusion, avant garde and music derived from the Afro-Cuban and Brazilian traditions -- he brings a wealth of experience to the musical table.

While often referred to as the “Tony Williams of funk,” Mike Clark considers jazz his first love. He gained worldwide recognition as one of America’s foremost jazz and funk drummers while playing with Herbie Hancock in the early seventies. His incisive playing on Hancock’s “Actual Proof” garnered him an international cult following and influenced generations of drummers.

Mike has performed with such well-known jazz greats as Herbie Hancock, Christian McBride, Chet Baker, John Scofield, Nicholas Payton, Tony Bennett, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Eddie Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Vince Guaraldi, Woody Shaw, Donald Harrison, Albert King, Larry Coryell, Mike Wolff, Wallace Roney, Billy Childs, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Chris Potter, Bobby McFerrin, Nat Adderly, Oscar Brown Jr., and Gil Evans and his Orchestra.