Mike Janzen is a piano playing puzzle. On the one hand (perhaps his left), Mike is a well trained classical musician with strong technical and music theory skills including a Bachelor of Music degree from Brandon University and a Masters of Composition from the University of Toronto. On the other, his musical journey includes forays into the worlds of rock, funk, folk and jazz. For the past fourteen years, Mike has elected to make playing and improvising jazz a personal and professional priority. He has studied jazz with Dave Restivo, Mark Eisenman, Jim McNeely, Paul Read, Wayne Bowman, and David Braid. He has played with such luminaries as Hugh and Fergus Marsh, Ben Riley, George Koller, Andrew Downing, Frank Botos, Steve Bell, Pat Collins, Jacob Moon, Jennit Burke Miracle Quartet, SMJ Quartet, Ciara Adams and his own band, the pennymerchants. Now living in Toronto with his wife Jodi, Mike is a regular on the Toronto music scene. Current projects include symphony arrangements for the Winnipeg Symphony, a film scoring project, studio work, live touring, and his brand new trio album Beginnings, with drummer Ben Riley (Bruce Cockburn, Michael Kaeshammer), renowned bassist George Koller (Holly Cole), Andrew Downing, and Frank Botos. Two time JUNO award winner Steve Bell says, 'Mike's extraordinary improvisational intuition and skill sets songs ablaze with virtuosity. And...he's just a great guy!' 'The longest journey begins with a single step' - so the saying goes. Of his jazz debut, Beginnings, Mike Janzen says the first step was the hardest. From his own beginnings as a talented prairie kid through his increasingly noteworthy contributions to the Canadian independent music scene, Mike has retained a genuine humility that sometimes makes it hard for him to recognize the scope of his own talent. It took years of requests from his fans, friends and family, and ultimately the coercion of Jacob Moon to convice him to make this album at all. Recorded live, this piano trio project draws on a combinatiion of original tunes, well loved songs from Mike's past, and jazz standards. Part high-wire improvisation, part solid groove, part inspired lullaby, Beginnings sparkles throughout with musical passion and wit.
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