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Mon, Jul 01


LTV Media Center

Michael Wolff | Solo Piano Concert

Former band leader for the Arsenio Hall Show

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Michael Wolff | Solo Piano Concert
Michael Wolff | Solo Piano Concert

Time & Location

Jul 01, 2024, 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

LTV Media Center, 75 Industrial Rd, Wainscott, NY 11975, USA

About the event

Michael Wolff is a renowned jazz pianist, composer and bandleader known for his virtuoso performances and innovative style. After leaving music school early to join the Latin-jazz great Cal Tjader’s band in the early ’70s, he spent the next two decades gigging and recording extensively. Wolff can be heard on over 21 recordings with a veritable hall of fame ranging from Tjader to Cannonball Adderley, Sonny Rollins, Nancy Wilson, Sheila E, Christian McBride, Tony Williams, and more. During this time, he even mingled with the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, Duke Ellington Band and the Count Basie Orchestra.

In addition to appearances at esteemed global venues such as Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Birdland, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Snug Harbor and Mezzrow, Wolff has performed with and conducted over 25 symphony orchestras worldwide including The Dallas Symphony, The Fort Worth Symphony, The Berlin Radio Orchestra, and The Atlanta Symphony. He has also performed as a soloist with The Memphis National Symphony and The Pittsburgh Symphony.

Wolff became a part of pop culture in 1989, when he began a five-year tenure as the musical director of the high energy house band on Arsenio Hall’s groundbreaking late-night talk show. This journey led to him accompanying saxophonist and Presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992, as well as backing musical giants including Ray Charles, B.B. King, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Al Green, James Brown, Sammy Davis Jr., Jerry Lee Lewis and Warren Zevon. He also served as musical director for Nancy Wilson.

In the summer of 2015, a grueling four-year battle with a rare form of blood cancer had the pianist-composer on the ropes and flat on his back. He fell into a coma in the lobby of a New York hospital, where the prognosis quickly moved from doubtful to death’s door. At one point, the doctor asked his wife, award-winning actress, director and writer Polly Draper, if she’d signed a Do Not Resuscitate order. Through the haze of drugs and debilitating illness, Wolff lifted his head up and growled: “Resuscitate me!”

His sons Nat and Alex, in the midst of their ascent as two of the most talented actors of their generation, returned home to be with their father to comfort him. They played guitars and sang at his bedside, tapping into the sweet, winsome gifts that had made the Wolffs a famous musical family nearly a decade earlier, via the hit Nickelodeon TV series The Naked Brothers Band. “When I got sick, it was tough on the whole family,” Wolff says. “My wife really had to take care of me, and it was hard on everybody. “I guess it just wasn’t my time,” he laughs today, “So now everybody’s flying free, which is great.”

Michael Wolff documents these highs, lows and ultimately triumphs in his memoir, On That Note: a Memoir of Jazz, Tics, and Survival. Nominated by the Jazz Journalist Association in 2023 for “Book of the Year: Biography/Autobiography”, the bestseller details not only his rich musical career, but also his journey as an outsider growing up with Tourette Syndrome to near-death and triumph over cancer. Wolff often recites and riffs on sections from his powerful, adventurous and humor-filled memoir in both his solo and trio performances. His experiences also inspired him to write and record material for his latest record “MEMOIR”, to be released on Sunnyside Records in spring of 2024. Prior to “MEMOIR”, he has released 14 albums to both critical and popular acclaim.

Wolff is a recipient of the BMI Music Award, the winner of the Gold Disc Award in Japan (“Jumpstart” recorded with Tony Williams and Christian McBride), and the recipient of the Hamptons International Film Festival’s award for best film score for The Tic Code. In addition to The Tic Code, he has composed the scores to many other film and television projects, such as Made Up, Dark Angel, Who’s the Man, and The Naked Brothers Band. Most recently Michael wrote the score for the new Polly Draper film, Stella’s Last Weekend.

In addition to working as a clinician, Wolff currently serves on the faculty at New York University’s Jazz Studies program, where he teaches both ensembles and private students. He is a Yamaha/Bosendorf artist.

Learn More About Michael Wolff 

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