Jean-Michel Pilc


Born in 1960 in Paris, and a self-taught pianist, Jean-Michel Pilc has played with some of the best jazz musicians: 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.

While living in Europe, Jean-Michel toured in forty countries and participated in more than a dozen recordings, as well as many film scores.  But his desire to expand his musical experience brought him to New York City in 1995.  One of his earliest partnerships in this new town turned into one of his most long-lasting, that with percussionist Ari Hoenig.

Since 2000 Jean-Michel has recorded eight CDs, most on the Dreyfus label, all of which have garnered serious praise from the critics along with a wealth of “Top 50 of the Year” picks.  His latest release, New Dreams (2007), displays his skills as a composer on ten of the fifteen tracks, while taking on often covered jazz standards by the likes of George Gershwin and Thelonius Monk.  With his masterful technique, indiosyncratic rhythmic invention and harmonic sophistication, Pilc deconstructs and reinvents standards almost beyond recognition, while his lyrical melodicism keeps them familiar yet new.


“When one examines the great casts of players that have emerged from the drama of jazz, no matter how varied their styles, from Louis Armstrong to Miles Davis, Jelly Roll Morton to Thelonious Monk, from Ben Webster to Charlie Parker the one ingredient most common to their greatness is the unpredictability of their art. And just when you think you’ve heard it all, someone new and unpredictable comes along. Welcome Jean-Michel Pilc.”
-Harry Belafonte

“Mr Pilc seems to have dropped from the sky fully formed, with technique and his ideas in place. He is a physical and densely harmonic player, a splashy stunner who also has a Rubik’s-cube mind for chord substitutions.”
-Ben Ratliff, New York Times

“…visual art references come to mind: Cubist renderings of melody in which the original is reshaped into a completely different visual perspective; the shimmering opaqueness of Impressionism in some of Pilc’s lush harmonies… Pilc is a player with a future, one whose impressive work deserves far wider exposure”
-Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times

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