Born in 1960 in Paris, and now an American citizen, self-taught Jean-Michel Pilc has performed with numerous giants in the music field such as: Roy Haynes, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Jean Toussaint, Rick Margitza, Martial Solal, Michel Portal, Daniel Humair, Marcus Miller, Kenny Garrett, Lenny White, Chris Potter, John Abercrombie, Mingus Dynasty & Big Band, Lew Soloff and Richard Bona. He has 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 trio format to record Live at Iridium, NYC, in 2004, New Dreams in 2006,and True Story in 2009, all three for Dreyfus Jazz. Pilc’s next two albums were both released in 2011 on the Motema label to great critical acclaim: “Essential”, a live solo piano recording, and “Threedom”, featuring his legendary trio with François Moutin & Ari Hoenig, which has re-formed in 2010 under the collective name Pilc Moutin Hoenig. There is also a documentary out by John McCormick about Jean-Michel titled “Jean-Michel Pilc – A Portrait” which was released in the US in 2009.
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 his movies. The project was premiered at the Caramoor Jazz Festival in August 2009.
Since 2006, he is a NYU Steinhardt faculty member. There, he is giving private lessons (piano and other instruments), ensemble classes and improvisation workshops. He was also co-director of NYU Summer Jazz Improv Workshop in 2010. Jean-Michel is also teaching for the New School in NYC, as well as privately.
Pilc has recently released a book, “It’s About Music – The Art and Heart of Improvisation” (Glen Lyon Books) and an educational video for all instruments, “True Jazz Improvisation” (JazzHeaven). Another video about piano playing and practicing is in the works. More info on Educator Page.
“Jean-Michel Pilc Trio + 1”, his latest project, features his virtuoso piano playing and whistling (documented on a solo piano & whistle track in the CD “Christmas from the Blue Note” released in 2010 on the “Half Note” label). It will also be the band featured on his next album for Motema.
In 2013, Jean-Michel has been granted a Fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, in the Music Composition category. The project is an octet, “New Big One”, featuring all new, original music.
US TOUR DATES – FRANCE ROCKS SUMMER FEST 2019:
6/1 @ Piano Forte – Chicago, IL
6/17 @ Blue Note – New York, NY
6/26 @ Festival Jazz en Juin – Quebec, Canada
6/29 @ Festival International de Jazz – Montreal, Canada