An eight-time JUNO Award (Canada's Grammy) nominee for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, guitarist/composer Michael Occhipinti's inventive approach to creative music of all kinds has earned him a broad array of listeners and the respect of critics and musicians alike. Crossing genres that include jazz, chamber music, funk, world music, and anything involving modern guitar sounds, Michael is both a versatile musician and an imaginative band leader. His Sicilian Jazz Project has been called a masterpiece of cross-cultural fusion and has thrilled audiences in Canada, the U.S., Italy, and Mexico. Starting with field recordings of forgotten Sicilian folk music and reinventing the music as a mix of global genres, the project earned Michael a JUNO nomination, the 2009 Ragusani nel Mondo Award (which he and his musician brother Roberto received together in Ragusa, Sicily for their contribution to Sicilian culture), and a Chalmers Award that allowed him to live in Sicily from March - June 2010.
Michael Occhipinti & Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon is Michael Occhipinti's newest project, selected by the staff at Jazz FM as a Top Pick of 2012. Typical of Michael’s willingness to challenge himself, the recording pulls off the tricky task of making some the best known songs in the world sound original and fresh. Shine On features the stellar vocals of Elizabeth Shepherd, Laila Biali, Dominic Mancuso, Yvette Tollar, and Denzal Sinclaire, and Michael's distinct arrangements of songs by John Lennon and the Beatles. The group has toured Canada’s music festivals from St. John’s to Victoria, and the record has received strong radio support in the U.S.A., Britain, and on Canadian radio, including live-to-air performances on CBC’s Q and on Jazz FM. The band turned heads at the APAP conference in New York, and is now booking shows for 2014 and beyond.