Derrick Michaels

Saxophonist | Composer | Educator

Baltimore-based tenor saxophonist whose approach is at once unapologetically lyrical and uncompromisingly dynamic. 

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DM Standards Quartet @ An Die Musik

The Avant Garde is about subverting expectations. Which limitations must an artist place on their creative forays, in order to communicate their story? The Avant Garde is not a style of music - it is an approach to life and art which is unpredictable, and rooted in an expression of the deepest parts of our humanity.

My music is often labeled as “avant garde” by folks promoting my performances. While this is not a label that offends me in the least, I do hesitate to fully embrace that descriptor. Admittedly - In the bands I assemble, the conventions of “jazz” tradition are often reimagined, sometimes even circumvented. This is done in order to be true to the moment - nothing more, nothing less. We are simply playing what we hear! This does not, however, indicate that song forms are ignored, or the rules of melody, harmony, and phrasing are disregarded. It means that we are taking extra care to pay attention to details and subtlety within our delivery of this music.

This particular concert will present an eschewing of my “avant garde” label - allowing me to reimagine my creative role as a storyteller: delivering and interpreting standard selections from the jazz canon, with a band that is unapologetically SWINGING. If the avant garde is about defying expectations, then it feels like a subversive action for me, anytime book a night of JAZZ that simply swings. The goal here is to be as free in the interpretations and improvisations that we would be if we were off the grid the whole evening. There’s freedom in the moment. Even when you recognize the tunes we are playing.

DM-tenor saxophone

Joshua Espinoza-piano

Alex Weber-bass

Chris Barrick-drums

Earlier Event: December 7
Improvisational Duos @ The Music Space
Later Event: December 19
Derrick Michaels Quartet @ Bertha's