Mike McGinnisBrooklyn, NY
Multi-reedist and composer Mike McGinnis is a musical explorer unbound by stylistic barriers, unwaveringly individual, curious, and open-minded. McGinnis’ penchant for experimentation has led him to work with a dizzyingly impressive array of artists – from jazz innovators like Anthony Braxton, Alice and Ravi Coltrane, Steve Coleman, and Lonnie Plaxico, to indie rock mainstays Yo La Tengo, to the Afro-Baroque Stew & the Negro Problem. He has performed on Broadway with the Tony-winning cast of Fela!, has co-led several ensembles, and has appeared as a soloist or sideman on over 60 recordings. Most recently, McGinnis brought legendary jazz artists Art Lande and Steve Swallow together for a project that resulted in his latest CD, which was released at New York City’s famed Jazz Standard venue and was featured in DownBeat magazine’s August 2017 issue.
McGinnis’ personal vision has been evident since his 2000 debut release, Tangents (RKM), but perhaps no more than on two critically acclaimed 2013 releases that highlight his deep commitment to stylistic diversity and collaboration. Road*Trip (RKM) and Ängsudden Song Cycle (482 Music) both feature extended compositions that showcase McGinnis as composer and improviser. For Road*Trip, McGinnis worked with West coast jazz legend Bill Smith to plot a course through Smith’s deceptively complex “Concerto for Clarinet and Combo” before writing “Road*Trip for Clarinet & 9 Players” at Smith’s urging. The album received a rare 4½ stars from DownBeat magazine, was named one of the 10 Best Jazz Albums of 2013 by the Village Voice, and was described by WNYC’s David Garland as “full of adventure, surprises, and beautiful vistas.”
In the dramatically different Ängsudden Song Cycle (482 Music), McGinnis found inspiration in the work of his longtime friend Filipino-American visual artist MuKha. The album, a tone poem that depicts the sonic landscape bridging a Swedish archipelago and the woods of McGinnis’ home state of Maine, evokes the strange silences and plaintive sounds of a forest in winter. The piece was described as a “poetically driven artistic statement” featuring “achingly beautiful arrangements” by Elliot Simon of the NYC Jazz Record, which named the LP release concert for Ängsudden Song Cycle one of the best live performances in New York City in 2013.
McGinnis’ musical daring has been recognized outside the jazz world as well and he has received commissions as varied as his own colorful palette, including from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to compose music based on emotions, in a collaboration with renowned brain scientist Pierre Magistretti. McGinnis has also written for film, including for Ang Lee’s 2009 Taking Woodstock and the recently-released Christopher Walken comedy One More Time, and has collaborated with choreographer and dancer Davalois Fearon to compose the music for her powerful debut piece, Consider Water, and her newer Time to Talk. McGinnis has also performed alongside Fearon at both the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Joyce Theater. McGinnis, who has performed extensively throughout the United States and the world, is a Selmer Paris performing artist. He plays Selmer saxophones and clarinets and Bill Street mouthpieces exclusively.