Born: February 7, 1985 Primary Instrument: Sax, tenor
Growing up in South Florida, Mike picked up the alto saxophone at the age of twelve . A growing musical interest led him to the Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts for his final years of high school. While attending the Northwestern University school of music, he gained exposure to both classical and jazz saxophone, studying extensively with Frederick L. Hemke and John Wojciechowski, respectively. At the 2008 International Jazz Composers Symposium in Tampa, FL, Mike's tune Jambo was named Best Small Group Composition. Mike now resides in and performs throughout the Chicago area.
Young jazz tends to go one of two directions in common form -- it can hold strictly to playing through classic ideas as the players get the music of the greats ingrained into them, or it can spin wildly out of control as the players show off their instrumental mastery with little regard for a strong, original melody. The Chicago quartet led by Josh Moshier (on outstanding keys throughout the album) and Mike Lebrun (on sax) takes neither of the standard tacks. Instead, Lebrun and Moshier craft straightforward but clever pieces of melody, then use the band as a whole to ornament heavily around the themes.
Chicago Jazz Magazine (Philip Davia)
This new recording, which features all new compositions by highly talented musician/composers Josh Moshier and Mike Lebrun, opens with “Kings Road.” The piano figure is mysterious and sparse and there is great use of space and rhythm in this piece. At certain points it has a very hip, avant-garde feel.
“Jambo” features a playful melody performed beautifully with the whole band playing part. Guest guitarist John Moulder plays a perfectly executed and melodic solo on this tune. “Saturnine,” which features an acoustic guitar and piano, showcases Moshier’s modern composition and how very well the entire group plays together.
While all the tunes are cleverly put together and beautifully executed, “The Second Handers” shows a complex piece of music in both its harmonic movement and rhythmic variety. The different sections move from one to the next with fiery solo playing over a dynamic rhythm section. The tune hits a peak as it ends with guitar and saxophone trading lines.
From the opening electric piano riff “Eleven Toe Waggle” is my favorite cut on this disc. The piano riff becomes a motif throughout this tune. There are moments where this repetitious figure is joyously mesmerizing, and at this point, Lebrun’s saxophone launches into smooth and soulful solos.
The syncopation laid down by the entire group provides rhythmic variety that glues this all together. This music is just damn good! “Avocado Soul” features the most lush and beautiful piano accompaniment by Mr. Moshier. Lebrun plays a bluesy, soulful sax solo over these most righteous chords. This is a subtle piece and it is captivating. The electric piano returns in “Finally Done, Still Frustrated” with a tremendous groove and a marvelous Robert Meier bass solo that had my foot tapping throughout the tune.
While “Known Unknowns” features another soulful guitar solo over a complex and freely moving harmony, Moshier plays a fine solo over his own composition. The opening electric piano chords of “Sleepwalking” give way to a very modern piece, but one that grooves throughout.
At times, the quartet sounds like a much larger band. Jazz could use more electric piano and it sounds tremendous here with a funky groove by Krucoff supporting Moshier’s hip solo lines. “Misfortunately Pleasant Opportunity” is a modern ballad. It’s like nothing I’ve heard before. Both Moshier and Lebrun use space very effectively and the tune is beautiful and harmonically interesting.
The disc finishes with the up-tempo, bebop groove of “Who Shall Excel Them.” Robert Meier and Max Krucoff, as they do on every track, masterfully play through many rhythmic sections of this piece. This CD offers new and complex compositions, very melodic soloing, infectious grooves and a sense style which illustrates that the future of jazz is in good hands.
Willing to teach:
*Willing to teach all levels of serious students of jazz and/or classical music in the Chicago area.
Mike graduated from Northwestern University in 2007 with a Bachelors in Jazz Studies.
Please call if interested - 561.901.9607