|Born||in Brooklyn, New York, USA|
Mini Bio (1)
From piano keyboards to computer keyboards, Mike Garson is a man of many talents and limitless inspiration. No artistic medium is off-limits to this avant-garde individual to whom the word "no" is quickly - and seemingly effortlessly - transformed into the word "now."
Best known for his impressive skills as a pianist, he is a respected composer and a budding computer artist. Embracing the idea of the "Renaissance Man," Mike continually experiments with new ways through which he can communicate his humanistic ideals.
Mike's story begins at the age of seven, when he began to study the classics. He was drawn magnetically to the piano and by his fourteenth birthday Mike was modifying complex Chopin and Mozart compositions to suit his ear for embellishment.
By his late teens, Mike discovered jazz and the allure of improvisation
- a pivotal moment in his artistic development. Mike is now considered
In fact, his exceptional improvisational abilities were a highlight of the January 2004 Keyboard Magazine cover story.
His love of improvisation is most evident in the signature style of musical composition he has developed under the NOW! MUSIC® brand. Unveiled in 1995, this innovative approach to contemporary composing transfers his knowledge of improvisation into the classical realm. Using a Yamaha Disklavier piano, Mike composes sonatas, nocturnes, ballades and concertos in real-time. The result is refreshing, inspirational and always original music.
His inaugural NOW! MUSIC® album, released in 1998, was followed by the 2004 release of "Homage to My Heroes," another independent album recorded in a similar style. He has also recorded twelve traditional solo albums including "Admiration," "Avant Garson," "Gershwin Fantasia," "Jazzical," "Mystery Man," "The Oxnard Sessions, Volumes I and II," "Serendipity" and "Remember Love."
Beyond his NOW! MUSIC® pieces, Mike has many years of traditional composing to his credit. Over the course of his career, he has written several thousand pieces of music in a variety of genres. While many artists prefer to remain within one genre, he remains open to artistic expression in any format.
It stands to reason that when he sits down at a keyboard, the result is usually a passionate musical performance. However, while touring with the Smashing Pumpkins in late 2000, he discovered another creative outlet: the computer keyboard. Using various programs on his MAC laptop, Garson has designed imaginative imagery in much the same way that he composes his NOW! MUSIC®. On April 12, 2004, Portland's Brian Marki Fine Art Gallery hosted a premiere reception of his avant-garde artwork.
Titled "From Pianos to Pixels: The Improvisational Art of Mike Garson," the event showcased Garson's improvisational musical ability and engaging visual artistry - challenging him to compose music for pieces of art chosen by the audience.
Of course, Mike remains committed to his first career: music. In 2002, he completed his first symphony entitled "Symphony 5.1." He structured this piece based on the form of Beethoven's 5th Symphony out of infinite admiration for the renowned composer. Two years earlier, in 2000, Mike also finished his first piano concerto.
A philosopher at heart, his music reflects the often arduous world in which he lives while communicating hope for an improved existence. In response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001, he composed a moving piece entitled "Prayer for New York." To commemorate the arrival of a new century - and a new millennium - he composed "Requiem for the 20th Century."
1999 saw the release of the MGM film "Stigmata" for which Mike co-composed the score with Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Among their collaborations was the haunting hit "Identify," which was performed by Natalie Imbruglia. (Mike also performed with the Pumpkins during their 1998 Adore tour and their final concerts in 2000).
Further demonstrating his flexibility, he has also composed ten pieces for Andres Cardenas, concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and improvised a series of duets with saxophonist Dave Liebman. In 1998, Mike was commissioned by Eddie Daniels, Larry Coombs and Ricardo Morales to compose a clarinet suite performed at the Ohio State University Clarinet Festival.
After playing only eight bars for Mick Ronson in late 1971, he was asked to join David Bowie's first North American tour. In the more than 30 years since, Mike has made his mark on Bowie albums such as "Reality," "Earthling," "Outside," "The Buddha of Suburbia," "Black Tie, White Noise," "Aladdin Sane," "Diamond Dogs," "David Live," "Pin-Ups," "Young Americans" and "Ziggy Stardust the Motion Picture." He has traveled thousands of miles on Bowie tours for 33 years, including his 2003-2004 "A Reality Tour," Bowie's first world tour in 20 years.
Mike's solid reputation for creativity and quality has motivated many other musicians to invite him to record on their albums. Trent Reznor - whom Mike first met during David Bowie's 1996 "Outside" tour - featured Mike on several tracks of Nine Inch Nails' "The Fragile." Mike can also be heard on Seal's "Human Being" as well as a bonus track at the end of No Doubt's "Return of Saturn" album.
From 1982 until 2004, he was a member of Free Flight, a jazz and classical ensemble featuring renowned flutist Jim Walker. In addition to serving as the group's pianist, Mike composed most of their music. Free Flight appeared four times on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and performed a concerto with the L.A. Philharmonic.
For the 1988 ABC television movie "Liberace," he performed all the piano works in the style of the flamboyant performer.
In his youth, he studied classical composition with Leonard Eisner of Juilliard and earned degrees in Music and Education from Brooklyn College. He also studied with Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Hal Overton, Robert Starer and Lennie Tristano. He has played with Stanley Clarke, Elvin Jones, Lee Konitz and Freddie Hubbard.
A lifelong learner, Mike has taught students at master classes and through private instruction. He has appeared at universities around the world where he has both guest lectured and performed for numerous music students and public audiences. Currently, masters and doctorate-level music students at the University of Southern California taking a course in 20th century classical music are required to perform one of his classical pieces. He has also authored seven musical instruction books published by Warner Brothers and Alfred Publishing Company.
He performed and taught at the 2002 World Piano Pedagogy Conference where he received a standing ovation after a series of improvisations based on a Paganini theme. In recognition of Mike's mastery of the piano and his composing skills, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the world-famous Beethoven Society.
Embracing the idea of creative, spiritual and professional growth, he continues to explore new avenues through which he can use his multifaceted talents to provide healing, enjoyment and inspiration to people.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Matthew A. Gilbert