Biography

Michael Bocian

A virtuoso on both acoustic and electric guitar, Michael Bocian was destined to become an eclectic player with a broad range. He was raised in a home offering ethnic music and instruments — the earliest sounds he was exposed to through his Polish upbringing were church music and the polkas played at weddings. As a teenager, he was first inspired by Motown, then by the heavy rock vibe of Hendrix and Jimmy Page, and finally awed by the Spanish music played by classical guitarist John Williams. By the age of 12 Bocian had settled on the guitar as his instrument.

Michael Thomas Bocian, born June 18, 1953 in Cleveland, Ohio, is a Polish American, jazz, and classical guitarist and composer. He was fortunate to have Cleveland as his hometown where many vibrant music scenes that an ambitious young musician could tap into. At DeArango Music Store and jazz club the Smiling Dog Saloon where he met the guitarist who would become his mentor, jazz great Bill DeArango. Bill's masterful playing opened up the teenager's head to a new music and the possibilities of the instrument. Bocian also counts among his major influences from that time artists as varied as Ornette Coleman, Lenny Tristano, Bela Bartok and Julian Bream. As part of a young group of Cleveland musicians that included Joe Lovano, Skip Hadden, Jamey Haddad, James Emery, Ernie Krivda and others, Bocian honed his improvisational skills.

After stints in California, Bermuda, Florida and Boston he moved permanently to NYC in 75’ one of his earliest acoustic bands were "Universal Language", formed with Joe Lovano, Paul McCandless, Billy Drewes, Dennis Dotson among others. He also helped create a collaboration performing and recording with the acoustic group "Wood" featuring composers/bassist, Scott Lee and clarinetist Billy Drewes with various violinists Jon Kass, Gregor Huebner and Mark Feldman on local projects performing acoustically only. He became part of a rich New York music scene where he was crossing paths with jazz greats such as Ed Blackwell, Rashied Ali, Dewey Redman and others. It was then that he was discovering a voice, inspired by the advice of his teachers and the elder jazzmen to "be yourself, play yourself."

In the '90s, he performed with his "Quartet", with Rashied Ali, Reggie Workman and Dewey Redman performing at various NYC clubs while also running a (long standing) trio/ jam session with bassist Ed Schuller and drummer Victor Jones at the well-known Chelsea club the "Squire." Bocian recorded several times in the 80’s and 90’s. two projects , “Go Groove” on Gunther Schuller’s label “Gunmar” with Rashid Ali, Fred Hersch and Ed Shculler and “Reverence on “Enja” with Dewey Redmen, Skip Hadden and Cameron Brown.

In early 2000, he created his own label, Ulua Music, and recorded a solo CD for nylon string,, synth and prepared guitar "Stork on The Hudson", a trio with Tom Rainey and Ratzo Harris "A Play Beyond Maya", a trio with Dean Johnson and Skip Hadden, "Here Just Visiting", and "I Am The Blues" also a trio with Tom Rainey and the great Bill DeArango. Along with several other new releases, Bocian continues to publish CD's on Ulua Music. His most recent solo endeavor “The Five Elements” is based on the five Buddhist prayer flags. He also authored a book and released a companion CD titled "25 Etudes for Contemporary Guitar." Venues have included legitimate theater, international festivals, clubs, performance spaces and radio. He improvised music for the Alwin Nikolai Dance Company along with David Darling and is a supporter of modern dance and modern ballet.

His first LP "For This Gift" produced by Gunther Schuller, 1982 also on “Gunmar” label, stands today with several Grammy winners. It represents a life of devotion to improvisation while Juan Miro graces the cover art with painting, “A Strand of Hair Followed By Two Planets”. Featured musicians are Joe Lovano, Billy Drewes, David Darling, Dave Samuels, Paul McCandless, Ken Werner, Judi Silvano, Larry Porter in trio, duet and septet settings.

Bocian quotes, "Everyday on many levels we’re always learning more about music. Absorbing various elements from our past and present experiences, from musical influences, from family, friends and the cultural environment we live in, distilling it down to a very personal approach and authentic self-expression and sound. That for me becomes the essence of musicianship, improvisation and the act of creating true music".

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