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Post-bop/hard bop instrumentalist Michael Weiss has been quoted as saying that he hopes to bring to jazz "a greater integration of composition and improvisation rather than the old head/solos/head format" — and, to be sure, his ‘90s and 2000s albums have often reflected that compositional outlook. Although Weiss' releases have had a lot of improvisation, he has put a great deal of effort into writing and has aimed to make his albums more than simply "blowing dates"; Weiss sees himself as a composer/bandleader/arranger as well as a soloist. The jazzman, who plays both acoustic piano and electric keyboards, brings a variety of pianistic influences to the table; Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton, and Chick Corea are among the pianists who reviewers have cited as influences on Weiss' playing.
The Michael Weiss profiled in this bio should not be confused with the well-known figure skater Michael Weiss; while the skater was born in Washington, DC on August 2, 1976, jazz musician Michael Weiss was born 18 years earlier in Dallas, TX on February 10, 1958. In the Lone Star State, he began studying classical piano at the age of six; he went on study at the Interlochen Academy in Michigan at the age of 15 before attending Indiana University as a young adult. When he was living in Indiana, Weiss was featured as a sideman by local musicians like Al Kiger and Pookie Johnson — and after graduating from Indiana University in 1981, he moved to New York City. Weiss got his first major break when singer Jon Hendricks hired him as a sideman in the early ‘80s, a time that also found him playing with tenor saxman Junior Cook regularly in a Big Apple jazz club called the Star Café. The list of jazzmen who have used Weiss as a sideman is impressive; over the years, his employers have included Art Farmer, Gerry Mulligan, Johnny Griffin, George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Tom Harrell, and Charles McPherson (among others). Weiss' first album as a leader, Presenting Michael Weiss, was released by Criss Cross Records (a Swiss label) in 1986. After that, it would be over a decade before Weiss provided another album of his own; Power Station, his second album as a leader, was released by DIW in 1998. However, the swinging yet lyrical pianist/keyboardist kept busy doing a lot of sideman work between Presenting Michael Weiss and Power Station, which was followed by his third album, Milestones (released by Denmark's well-known SteepleChase label). Weiss put out his fourth album, Soul Journey, on his own label, Sintra Records, in 2003.