Michael Cain

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Michael Cain
Born (1966-04-02) April 2, 1966 (age 52)
Los Angeles, California
GenresClassical, jazz, pop, contemporary
Occupation(s)Composer, pianist

Michael Cain (born April 2, 1966 in Los Angeles, California) is a pianist and composer.[1]


Michael Cain first started playing the piano at the age of four and was quickly improvising and composing.[citation needed] The following year he began studying classical music, although by the age of ten it was jazz that became predominant, as well as an interest in integrating several kinds of popular music.[citation needed]

Cain went on to attend several universities starting with the University of North Texas. Although initially a jazz major, he found that classical music was occupying more of his time and switched to that major. From there he moved to Los Angeles and continued to study classical piano at the University of Southern California, and finally ended up at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA., where he did both undergraduate and graduate work. Cain received a Bachelor's degree in jazz piano in 1988, and a Master's degree in fine arts in 1990.

Cain moved to New York in 1990 and began performing with many members of M-Base, a Brooklyn-based collective of musicians, initially with Greg Osby and later with Robin Eubanks and Lonnie Plaxico among others. That same year he recorded his first CD as a leader, Strange Omen, for the Candid label, a trio recording that features Glen Velez on hand percussion and Bruce Saunders on guitar. Later that year Michael started playing with Jack DeJohnette and joined his group Special Edition.

In 1991, Cain also began playing with the Anthony Cox quartet which featured Dewey Redman on saxophone and Billy Higgins on drums. That group did several European tours and recorded two CD's for Island Records, Dark Metals, and Factor of Faces, which also featured Ralph Peterson on drums.

From 1995 to 1997, Cain was an assistant professor in the Jazz and Contemporary Media Department at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

In 1997, Cain joined the faculty at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston where he directed several ensembles, taught classes on rhythm analysis, and taught private piano. During the 1997-98 school year Michael served as the school's Diversity Coordinator, an administrative position that focused on issues of diversity in all its implications at the university level. From 1999 to the present Michael has been the director of the "Digital Playground", a music education and recording program at the Hoboken Charter School in Hoboken, New Jersey.[2] This program teaches music to students from grades 3-12 by helping enable them to create, record, and distribute their own music.[3]

Cain was musical director for the Jose Limón Dance Company's New York premiere of Crossroads (2001), a collaboration between composer James Newton and choreographer Donald McKayle.[4]

During his professional career as a pianist, he has played with and for musicians such as Ravi Coltrane, Billy Higgins, Marlena Shaw, Gerald Wilson, James Newton, Billy Hart, Anthony Cox, Greg Osby, Robin Eubanks, Lonnie Plaxico, Jack DeJohnette, Ralph Peterson, Dave Holland, Bobby McFerrin, Meshell Ndegeocello, Carlos Ward, Ray Anderson, Charles Neville, Hassan Hakmoun, Oliver Lake, Reggie Workman, Mýa, Kip Hanrahan, Noreaga, Cindy Blackman, Joshua Redman, Victor Bailey, Bobby Previte, Frank Lacy, Bennie Maupin, Pheeroan Aklaff, Eric Person, Gary Thomas, Vernon Reid, Marty Ehrlich, Gene Jackson, James Genus, Steve Swallow, Andrew Cyrille, Steve Coleman, John Scofield, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Stanley Turrentine, Don Alias, and many others.

In 2008, Cain joined the Faculty of Music at Brandon University in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, where he leads several ensembles, and teaches jazz curriculum and piano.

The 2015 album Sola was well reviewed. JazzdaGama said "Michael Cain feels music passionately and colourfully and the expert musicianship and loving care that he puts into his work is obvious."[5] The Huffington Post's review noted that "...Cain’s most recent work has had a distinctively electronic bent to it with colors and textures that seem to borrow from elements of jazz, hip hop and Electronic Dance Music."[6]

Cain's most recent release is Hoo Doo, featuring Michael Cain – keys, Eric Platz and Angelo Stokes – drums, Scott Brown and Matthew Fricke – guitar, Aren Teerhuis – saxophone, Stormy Allen – trombone and Tondrae Kemp – vocals


As leader/co-leader[edit]

Year recorded Title Label Notes
1990 Strange Omen Candid Trio, with Bruce Saunders (guitar), Glen Velez (percussion)
1991 What Means This? Candid Quartet, with Anthony Cox (bass), Marvin "Smitty" Smith (drums), Paul Hannah (percussion)
1994 Evidence of Things Unseen MA Solo piano
1996 Circa ECM Trio, with Ralph Alessi (trumpet, flugelhorn), Peter Epstein (soprano sax, tenor sax)
2000 Pfhew MA Trio, with Ralph Alessi (trumpet, flugelhorn), Peter Epstein (soprano sax, tenor sax)
Brooklyn Waters Telepathy Duo, co-led with Pheeroan akLaff (drums, percussion)
2008? The Green Eyed Keeper Native Drum Music
Indira Muzak/ENJA
2011 Solo Native Drum Music Solo piano, synthesizer, electronics
2015 Sola Native Drum Music Keys/programming
2018 Hoo Doo Native Drum Music Keys

As sideman[edit]

With Jack DeJohnette

With Robin Eubanks

With Gary Thomas

With Gerald Wilson


  1. ^ Allmusic
  2. ^ "Choir Academy: In The Choir Academy Charter School Basement Studio". tapeop.com. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  3. ^ https://www.brandonu.ca/Music/People/memberprofile.asp?ID=68
  4. ^ Kisselgoff, Anna. "DANCE REVIEW; The Limón Company Stretches and Steps Into the Jazz Age". Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  5. ^ "Michael Cain: Sola - Jazz da Gama". Jazz da Gama. 2015-10-26. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  6. ^ Miriello, Ralph A. (2015-10-02). "Michael Cain's Celestial Sounds on Sola". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-10-03.

External links[edit]