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Michael Wolff

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  • Born: Victorville, CA
  • Years Active: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

A jazz journeyman with a taste for adventure, pianist Michael Wolff has explored improvisation in a variety of milieus, ranging from bop to pop-jazz to worldbeat over the course of his multi-decade year career.

Growing up in California in the 1960s and '70s, Wolff was exposed at a young age to the fusion explorations of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Return to Forever (featuring pianist Chick Corea), and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. In 1975, Wolff landed a gig with the legendary saxophonist Cannonball Adderley. Soon, Wolff was gigging with other greats, including Sonny Rollins and Airto Moreira. The jobs led to a stint as arranger and musical director for vocalist Nancy Wilson, before Wolff was tapped as bandleader for the Arsenio Hall Show in the mid-'80s.

After leaving television, Wolff returned to jazz, issuing a series of recordings, including Jumpstart (1995) and 2 AM (1995) (both featuring a trio rounded out by drummer Tony Williams and bassist Christian McBride), as well as Portraiture: the Blues Period (1998), and others. In the late '90s, he assembled Impure Thoughts, a world jazz group, with a varied ensemble, including tabla master Badal Roy, high-school friend (and Jaco Pastorius sideman) Alex Foster, and Arsenio Hall bandmate John B. Williams. A regular gig at the West Bank Cafe in Manhattan led to several recording dates, which resulted in Impure Thoughts (2000) and Intoxicate (2001).