“he can focus the intensity in a tune as well as any pianist in mainstream jazz.” – New York Times
"Weiss' shrewd writing and arranging skills are as clearly in view as his sleek piano work" – The New Yorker
“An energy and irrepressible inventiveness… The nimbleness of Weiss’ technique was matched by the intellectual heft of his ideas.” – Chicago Tribune
"Weiss’ compositions take on different shapes, great complexity and fresh perspectives" – Washington Post
“One of the most fluent and flexible pianists of his generation.” – BMI Music World
“Combines the wonder of spontaneity with a workmanlike acknowledgment of his materials: art and craft in delightful balance.” – Chicago Reader
You can tell a lot about a musician by the company he keeps. The star-studded resume that pianist and composer Michael Weiss has quietly assembled over the past 40 years proves that some of the greatest names in jazz have long considered Weiss one of the best in the business. Since arriving in New York in 1982, the Dallas native has forged a formidable career working in the bands of jazz legends Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Slide Hampton, Frank Wess, Jimmy Heath and the Heath Brothers, George Coleman, Charles McPherson, Jon Hendricks, Lou Donaldson, Junior Cook/Bill Hardman Quintet, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, and Mingus Epitaph Orchestra. Weiss' fifteen year association with Griffin, yielded four recordings and annual tours in the USA and around the world. He has also performed with Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Clark Terry, Clifford Jordan, Gary Bartz, Phil Woods, Pepper Adams, Joe Lovano, Ron Carter, David Newman, Gerry Mulligan, Nancy Wilson, Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell, Gerry Mulligan, Wynton Marsalis, and numerous other jazz greats.
As a band leader, Weiss has headlined at the Village Vanguard, Detroit Jazz Festival, Detroit Symphony Hall, Smithsonian Institution, and major New York venues such as the Blue Note, Jazz Standard, Birdland, Bradley’s, Iridium, Sweet Basil, Smoke and Merkin Concert Hall. Reviewing his Vanguard debut, the New York Times wrote that Weiss "demonstrated a strong sense of leadership and organization" exhibiting "sensitivity and logic, along with crisp control." Television appearances include CBS-TV’s Nightwatch and PBS’ Live From Lincoln Center: The City of Jazz. NPR radio appearances include PianoJazz with Marion McPartland, Making the Music with Wynton Marsalis, Jazzset, and the Jazz Piano Christmas Special. Weiss was the 1989 second prizewinner in the Thelonious Monk Institute's International Piano Competition.
Weiss has also been recognized for his writing. He was the grand prize winner of the 2000 BMI/Thelonious Monk Institute's Composition Competition presented to him by Wayne Shorter, and is a two-time Chamber Music America New Works grant recipient. Weiss’ compositions reveal eclectic influences from the worlds of jazz, 20th Century classical and popular music. Weiss focuses on extended forms, thematic development and attention to detail.
In 2022 Weiss celebrates the release of his fifth recording as a leader, Persistence (Cellar Live). His previous recordings on the CrissCross, SteepleChase, DIW and Sintra labels have been hailed by the critics:
"Weiss has a rich palette of composing devices at his command" – Downbeat “Weiss’ original compositions conjured a distinct world of sound, a testament to the nature of Weiss’ imagination.” – Chicago Tribune
"Warmth, integrity and above all, originality. Weiss’ originals are formful and dynamic enough to sound as if they were standards of the genre." – JazzTimes “the songs simply smoke” – Detroit Free Press
"Weiss is a vital talent with something important to say" – All About Jazz “About as close to perfection as a recording can get....If there is truly justice in our world, this should be a Grammy nominee.” – Jazz Improv
"A prodigious bop-and-beyond pianist and composer.... consummate musicianship and alluring improvisations" – The Star Ledger
“This music lives and breathes freshness and exhilarating originality. The individual selections are strong and attractive enough, to still be played as jazz vehicles in 10, 20, or even 50 year’s time.” – Jazz Journal
“a masterwork. Soul Journey is terrific. The work is majestic, brash and dynamic throughout.” – Jazzwax.com
As a sideman Weiss appears on recordings of Johnny Griffin, Frank Wess, Charles McPherson, Steve Grossman, Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Ronnie Cuber, Louis Smith, Dick Oatts, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and others.
Weiss is deeply committed to jazz education. He has held faculty positions at Indiana University, Hartt College of Music, Queens College. In master classes and residencies throughout the world Weiss aims to relay his bandstand experience through a host of topics that directly address the standards and performance practices required of a professional jazz musician.