A true labor of love for Zilber, the project features eleven poems by Billy Collins, America’s most beloved and widely known poet, set to music for voice, sax, piano, bass and drums. Andy Kirshner, an astonishing singer who mixes, pop, soul and traces of Johnny Hartman in his voice, gives perfect realization to the settings.
A true collective, Happy Hour is made up of 5 of the top jazz musicians in the Bay Area, all leaders in their own right. Erik Jekabson on trumpet, John Gove on Trombone, Peter Barshay on bass and Jeff Marrs on drums join Michael in this precision, highly innovative and exciting assemblage. All members of the group write and arrange for the quintet, and a unique hallmark is the chordless quintet sound where the horns fill out the harmonies and take the role normally played by a pianist or guitarist. Michael notes that “this is easily the best horn section I have played with in this town. Everyone is a strong improviser and the section blend is fantastic.” Indeed, one of the highlights for audiences is the collective improvisation of the three horns. The truly intuitive and original horn writing is balanced out by the full harmonic approach of Barshay on the Bass and the intense and high energy commentary of Marrs on the drums.
Guitar great John Stowell has joined forces with Michael to record originals and renditions of songs by Kenny Wheeler and John Scofield, as well as off the beaten track standards. Joined by the Bay Area’s #1 call rhythm team of John Shifflett (bass) and Jason Lewis (drums), the two have recorded solo, duo and quartet cuts which mix free playing, transparent ECMish settings and more hard-charging modern jazz. The first regular group for Michael with guitar instead of piano, the Stowell-Zilber quartet runs the gamut from the delicacy of the Beatles and A Brazilian to the abstracted New Orleans grease of Wabash 3 and the Nordic swing of Kayak. Says Zilber “John is the first guitarist I have played regularly with where I have not felt the absence of a pianist. He plays such rich and full and open chords that I am able to explore harmonically and spatially in a way that feels fresh and new to me.” The recording is currently set for an early fall release.
I am honored that Jazzschool Director Susan Muscarella has asked me to teach composition, saxophone and jazz ensembles as part of the new Jazzschool Institute, a high level 4 year program for advanced student musicians looking to further their craft in an innovative and superior program of jazz training. Featuring a who's who of Bay Area and national jazzers, the institute is the first of its kind in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Formed four years ago at the request of Jazzschool Institute Director Susan Muscarella to be the group running the Advanced Summer Intensive as well as to represent the faculty as part of the Jazzschool Institute, and asked by Susan to do a tribute concert to Michael Brecker and Wayne Shorter, the 2 pre-eminent jazz saxophonists of the past 40 years, the group is one of which Michael Zilber says “there is no group of players with whom I enjoy playing more in the Bay Area.” Peter Horvath, the fiery and thrilling pianist know for his work with Lenny White and Victor Bailey, joins Zilber and t
Back in the summer of 2010 my good friend from SFJAZZ, Mike Charlasch, asked me to put a group together as part of an SFJAZZ series at Amnesia in the Mission. I had a choice of Michael Brecker or Wayne Shorter, both of whose music, of course, I deeply love and admire.