Jean-Michel Pilc

Label: Challenge Records
Format: CD
Barcode: 0608917345629
Catalog number: CR 73456
Releasedate: 01-06-18
- CD 1 compositions for solo piano by Jean-Michel Pilc in a studio recording, made in the Netherlands. CD 2 bonus CD Jean-Michel Pilc with free improvisations, composed and recorded in Montreal
- Double album with two solo piano recordings, conceived in a completely new form, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean

Most people believe that growing up and getting older goes hand in hand with acquiring more knowledge and wisdom. It may be comforting to think that life teaches you things, and there is often some truth to it. However, to me, there is also a parallel, deeper reality at work.

The more I know, the more I need to unlearn.The music in this album, made during two very different sessions, using the invisible ink of improvisation, is about this mysterious and ever growing part of unknown which makes me create, forget, and create again.
Jean-Michel Pilc

After listening to Jean-Michel’s solo piano recording, which he sent us from Montreal, Anne de Jong (at the time, general director of Challenge Records) and I discussed a new release. Jean-Michel had already planned to come over to Europe for concerts and masterclasses, so I suggested to arrange a studio recording session in The Netherlands. The result is Parallel, a double album of two solo piano recordings conceived in totally different time frames, at both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, which turned out to be a perfect match. The studio album is a series of Jean-Michel’s inventions based on composed repertoire. The Montreal album is improvised music, all recorded in just one take. 

For me, solo piano music gets straight into the heart of a composition, in its purest form. Parallel is an intriguing and exciting journey in Jean-Michel’s realm of composed and improvised music, which makes you want to listen over and over again. 
Jasper Somsen

Self-taught pianist and composer Jean-Michel Pilc has performed with numerous jazz giants including Roy Haynes, Billy Hart, Michael Brecker, Dave Liebman, Jean Toussaint, Rick Margitza, Kenny Werner, Martial Solal, Michel Portal, Daniel Humair, Marcus Miller, Kenny Garrett, Lenny White, Chris Potter, John Abercrombie, the Mingus Dynasty & Big Band, Lew Soloff and Richard Bona, among others. He has also worked with Harry Belafonte as his musical director and pianist, and has performed a duet with the legendary opera singer Jessye Norman.

Jean-Michel’s renowned trio featuring bassist François Moutin and drummer Ari Hoenig has released numerous standout recordings, including Together - Live at Sweet Basil and NYC - Vol.
1 & 2
(2000), Welcome Home (2002), Cardinal Points (2004) and Live at Iridium, NYC (2004). The group later released Threedom in 2010 after reforming under the collective name Pilc-Moutin-Hoenig.

An active solo performer who’s appeared in concert internationally, Jean-Michel has released three critically-acclaimed solo piano records: Follow Me (2004), Essential  (2011) and What Is This Thing Called? (2015). A new solo album on Challenge Records is slated for a 2018 release.

In addition to extensive work as a sideman in a variety of ensembles, Jean-Michel’s diverse other personal projects include Modern Lights, a composition reflecting on Charlie Chaplin’s work that was premiered at the Caramoor Jazz Festival in August 2009. The project was funded through a New Works Grant from Chamber Music America. Additionally, in 2013, Jean-Michel was granted a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, in the Music Composition category for the creation of Big One, a project featuring all new original music for octet. He was also the subject of a 2009 documentary by filmmaker John McCormick, titled Jean-Michel Pilc – A Portrait.

Jean-Michel has built a strong international reputation as a very unique educator. From 2006 to 2015, he was a NYU Steinhardt faculty member and gave private lessons (piano and other instruments), taught ensemble classes and held improvisation workshops. He also acted as Co-Director of NYU Summer Jazz Workshop in 2010. Jean-Michel also taught for the New School in New York City, as well as offering private lessons in his own studio.

Since September 2015, Jean-Michel has acted as Associate Professor at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal. There, he teaches piano, jazz improvisation to all instruments and a Seminar on Improvisation in All Styles to 40 McGill jazz and classical students. He has acted as Schulich’s Jazz Area Chair since December 2016. During this time, Jean-Michel has also founded the Improvisation Workshop Project with Rémi Bolduc, Kevin Dean and Jean-Nicolas Trottier, a research project funded by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Société et Culture (FRQSC).

Over the years, Jean-Michel has also released a book titled It's About Music - The Art and Heart of Improvisation (Glen Lyon) and educational videos such as True Jazz Improvisation (JazzHeaven), Transcending the Instrument (JazzHeaven), Improvisational Fluency ( and Anatomie d'un standard (iMusic School).