In 2004, Jean-Michel Pilc released his first solo album, Follow Me. He has been intensively touring worldwide (US, Europe, North Africa, Jamaica
), performing solo and with his New Trio, featuring Thomas Bramerie (bass) and Mark Mondesir (drums).
About his new release, and his solo work, Jean-Michel says: "Like any other lineup, solo is about finding the right band, only this time all the musicians are in your own head. At this point in my life I have the feeling I did find the right partners."
Jean-Michel's next album for Dreyfus, Live at Iridium, NYC, recorded in October 2004, features his New Trio. In Jean-Michel's words, "It is a magic and very special experience for me. We first performed together back in 1993, and happily reunited ten years later. I have been fortunate enough to play with wonderful and unique bands in the course of my life, which has continually allowed me to discover fresh things about myself and about music."
Born in Paris in 1960, the largely self-taught pianist has played with some of finest jazz musicians in America and Europe, including 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 and Richard Bona. He toured in 40 countries and participated in more than a dozen recordings as well as film scores before relocating to New York City in 1995. One of his early employers in the States was singer Harry Belafonte, who speaks glowingly of his former pianist and musical director in his liner notes for Pilc's Welcome Home: "Beyond all that can be said about (Jean-Michel's) masterful technique and his beauty of touch, it is the unpredictability that is central to his remarkable talent. As one listens to each selection, be they vintage or newborn, one is taken into his world of improvisation where the unexpected is constant."
In 1995, Pilc formed a trio with Francois Moutin (bass) and Ari Hoenig (drums). Soon, they would be performing in many of the top jazz venues in NYC, becoming as critic Don Williamson put it, "one of the astounding jazz piano trios of the past decade." They recorded a one week engagement at Sweet Basil and, in 2000, released two CDs Together Live at Sweet Basil, NYC Volumes 1 & 2 (A-Records). Both received exceptional critical acclaim in the US and in Europe.
In 2001, Pilc signed a multi-record deal with Dreyfus Jazz. His Dreyfus debut, Welcome Home, garnered rave reviews, extensive airplay and impressive sales. The trio toured the world in support of the album, solidifying their brilliant reputation on the international scene.
A recent Chicago engagement inspired Neil Tesser to write: "Pilc's playing reveals a roaring fire that all but consumes the cosmopolitan sheen stereotypical of European music he creates an admirable trialogue with his band mates (bassist Francois Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig), that represents another stage in the evolution of the interplay brought to piano jazz by Bill Evans." The Chicago Tribune's Howard Reich found that "Pilc took his place among the most accomplished and stylistically daring jazz pianists working today." And Eric Brace wrote in the Washington Post that: "His densely harmonic reinventions of standards you thought you knew clearly shows a musical genius at work."
Pilc's next album for Dreyfus, Cardinal Points was released in 2003 and received extraordinary reviews: JazzTimes said it "should be studied in every music school in the galaxy " choosing the CD as one of Top 50 Picks for Critics Picks 2003; and a four Star "Hot Box" review in DownBeat said it's " ridiculously well-balanced, and trading in the kind of grace that still has the power to shake a room. Keith Jarrett found something similar Pilc's nudging it a bit further down the line."
On his new release Follow Me, Pilc's highly personal take on oft-recorded jazz standards and his own compositions shows a depth of imagination and a sense of playful discovery that distinguish him as one of the most potent and adventurous pianists on the jazz scene today. To quote him once again: "The music on this album is exactly what I've been hearing inside me in recent years."
In addition to his solo & trio engagements, Jean-Michel teaches in clinics and master classes. As a sideman, he has recently played and recorded with drummer Ari Hoenig, vocalists Elisabeth Kontomanou and J-D Walter, bassist/vocalist Richard Bona, soprano saxist Sam Newsome, and altist Rosario Giuliani.