Born: August 29, 1961 Primary Instrument: Piano
Michael is a musician and composer best known for his jazz score in Richard Linklater’s 2008 Me and Orson Welles starring Zac Efron and Claire Danes. A self-taught guitarist and bass player, Michael studied piano and viola at the Centre for Young Musicians and Leeds College of Music.
His interest in improvisation led him to work aged 17 in Dick Heckstall-Smith’s band, Big Chief, and at the same time, he was mentored by the legendary African conga drummer, Reebop Kwaku Bah (Jimmy Cliff, Traffic, Rolling Stones). His first break came aged 20 when Ian Dury hired Michael to co-write and arrange his album Four Thousand Weeks’ Holiday, followed by projects including Scritti Politti’s Songs to Remember, Orange Juice’s Rip it up and Nina Hagen’s In Ekstase. Throughout the 1980s Michael wrote and performed with leading pop acts including teenybop idols, Curiosity Killed the Cat and UK hip hop progenitors Soul II Soul. He performed live and recorded in the studio with Sting, The Bee Gees, Mark Morrison and many others. He has also had a long association with Steve Winwood, touring with him in his seminal rock band, Traffic, in 1994 and afterwards becoming his Musical Director until 1999. In the 1990s Michael wrote songs with Teena Marie (Since Day One), The James Taylor Quartet (Sunshine of Your Smile), Patrice Rushen (Caravan) and DJ Wookie (Back Up, Back Up). His credits as a producer include the ‘rare groove’ club classic Try My Love by Lalomie Washburn, and co-producer of the JTQ album Supernatural Feeling and London funk band Push.
Michael’s first experience of writing music for film was for Beeban Kidron’s debut feature Vroom starring Clive Owen and David Thewlis, followed by The Bearskin starring Tom Waits. His music also featured in a number of major documentaries including the BAFTA-winning J’accuse, Equinox’s Fly Navy and The Battle of the Hood and Bismarck. Returning to the USA in 1998, Michael composed music for over 20 long-form documentaries for the Biography Channel, History Channel and PBS. During this time he received three regional Emmy nominations and was awarded the Emmy in January 2004 for Best Instrumental Music for his work on Tennessee Yearbook narrated by Isaac Hayes.
He returned to London in 2003 to study Composition for Screen at the Royal College of Music where he was the Performing Rights Society’s Sir Arthur Bliss Memorial Scholar. In October 2005 he received his Masters in Music and was awarded the Joseph Horovitz Prize in Composition for Screen, the first time it had been awarded since 2001. From 2005-08, Michael was a Professor of Composition at the Royal College of Music. During this time he scored several prime-time documentaries: French Beauty, (Storyville BBC2) and E=mc2 (Einstein’s Big Idea) a feature length drama documentary produced by Darlow/Smithson and WGBH. Michael has also collaborated with the renowned DJ Paul Oakenfold on a number of film scores including the award-winning Japanese anime feature, Vexille, directed by Fumihiko Sori and in 2008 they scored Nothing Like the Holidays, starring John Leguizamo and Alfred Molina, which was a top ten Christmas hit.
Michael’s own recent album releases include Terra Cognita, featuring the Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira and Band on a Mission co-written with the retro funk band PUSH and also featuring Hamish Stuart (AWB). 2010 saw Michael compose the music for two Indie features, Forget Me Not, winner of London Independent Film Festival directed by Lance Roehrig and Alex Holt and top ten iTunes download and Just Ines, directed by Marcel Grant starring French actress Caroline Ducey. In 2011-12, Michael has worked for the BBC on the BAFTA-winning children’s series Dani’s House writing the music for Series 4 & 5. Most recently, Michael wrote the orchestral score for the landmark National Geographic series, Alien Deep and the score for CBBC’s 13 part series, Young Dracula.
His latest album, 'The Long Way Home'(2014), features some of the most widely respected British jazz musicians including trumpeter Gerard Presencer, saxophonist Nigel Hitchcock.
Awards:Emmy award for Best Instrumental Music -'Tennessee Yearbook', narrated by Issac Hayes (2004)
This has got instant appeal. And it’s over far too soon. With a melodic 1970s vibe to start with on the title track opener and Gerard Presencer’s bluesy horn commentary over a strong rhythm section of pianist McEvoy joined by Empirical bassist Tom Farmer and the Golden trio’s James Maddren this is the former musical director of Steve Winwood’s time to shine. (Marlbank - Jazz for the 21st century)
Michael J McEvoy,Terra Cognita(Rezzonator Music Ltd, 2011)
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