Michael Weiss is an international pianist from Dallas (Texas), one of those artists part of a select group of most recognized international artists. According to the Chicago Tribune, is “one of the most dynamic young pianists in jazz“. He has played with other great musicians as Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer and Wynton Marsalis. Its versatility, elegance and talent make him a master of jazz.
He played piano at Milano Cocktail-Bar with Ignasi Gonzalez on bass and Esteve Pi on drums, and hopes to do it again next year, when he returns to Spain. We have interviewed him:
It was very nice to hear you playing the piano at Milano Cocktail-Bar. Was that your first time playing in Spain?
I performed throughout Spain with the Mingus Epitaph Orchestra in 1991. So it’s been a long time since then.
Talk us a little about you… When did you start playing music? Why?
I began piano lessons at the age of six and took to it right away. We discovered I had perfect pitch and I enjoyed playing by ear.
When did you decide to be a professional musician?
Once I discovered jazz at fifteen, I discovered that I had a passion and a destiny that there was no turning back.
What do you think about Spanish jazz clubs? Are they very different from New York clubs?
Once you are on stage performing, there really is no difference. However the staff at Milano Campari was very friendly and accommodating.
Michael Weiss at the Detroit Jazz Fest 2010
What do you think about our musicians? Do they play the same kind of jazz you like to?
The musicians I worked with in Barcelona were very capable and professional. They have benefitted from working with many American musicians so they understand the idiom very well and know what to expect. We can communicate easily with just the language of jazz.
Which are the differences between playing in the USA and in Europe?
Audiences can be good or bad anywhere. However European countries seem to have a lot more public funding for the arts than in the USA so consequently there can be more performing opportunities in Europe.
Once I discovered jazz at fifteen, I discovered that I had a passion and a destiny that there was no turning back
They say If you succeed in the USA it means that you’re a great musician. Do you think it is necessary to go there? Many European musicians do…
Since Jazz music is a uniquely American art form – in that it was born in the USA, the expressive qualities inherent in this music are naturally an outgrowth of the African American experience, combined with the American popular song, whose form and harmonies came from European roots. Jazz musicians around the world know that New York City is still the melting pot for the most dedicated and serious players. The main reason to come to New York is to improve. To be in an environment of excellent dedicated musicians striving to get better.
What do you think about modern jazz?
Ah, you are asking one of those unanswerable questions. Jazz music from at least 1945 has been labeled “modern.” It doesn’t really mean anything anymore. Duke Ellington’s words – something like, “there’s only good music and bad music” is still true. In the end everything comes down to taste – good taste and bad taste.
Which do you think that will be the future of jazz?
Ouch, there’s another one! Jazz music is of the sort that can incorporate any kind of music into it. I think musicians will continue looking for ways to combine different styles and ethnic music in different ways, with improvisation always in the mix. For me personally, the increase of composition and the use of improvisation inside more substantial compositional structures is what we need to keep jazz interesting, and for the artist to make a greater personal statement.
The artist playing at home
What do you think about the combination of jazz and cocktails?
It was Billy Strayhorn who said “One relaxes on the axis of the wheel of life, to get the feel of life from jazz and cocktails.”
What do you think about Milano Cocktail-Bar?
It is a warm comfortable place to play. No distractions. I wish them continued success with their jazz programming.
Was a good experience to come to our club?
Yes I enjoyed it. I look forward to the next time.
When will you come again to Spain?
I plan to return next year.