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Mike Horsfall: Bio

"Mike Horsfall...is he a vibes player or a piano player? Truth is, he's one of those multi-faceted musicians who plays both instruments brilliantly."   -  program of the 2012 Vancouver Wine & Jazz Festival

Short Bio

Mike Horsfall is in demand as a composer, arranger, recording artist, concert soloist and educator on both vibraphone and piano.  He has performed with Chuck Redd, Leroy Vinegar, Rebecca Kilgore and Gary Hobbs, and has recorded with Pink Martini, the Nu Shooz Orchestra and with Tall Jazz, a trio he co-founded in 1989 which was voted into the Jazz Society of Oregon’s 2010 Hall of Fame.  Mike serves on the music faculty at Willamette University and Mt. Hood Community College.

Medium Bio

Mike Horsfall has enjoyed a successful and diverse musical career for over 35 years, serving as a performer, educator, composer, arranger, recording artist and concert soloist on both piano and vibraphone.  He has performed and recorded with a large number of world class musicians, including Bud Shank, Bobby Shew, Leroy Vinegar, Chuck Redd, Holly Hofman, and Rebecca Kilgore, and has worked with such notable groups as Pink Martini, the Nu Shooz Orchestra, and the Portland Chamber Orchestra.  In 1989 Mike co-founded the trio Tall Jazz, which went to perform, record, and educate for over 20 years.  They became the first ensemble to be voted into the Jazz Society of Oregon's Hall of Fame.  Mike currently serves on the music faculty at Willamette University, Mt. Hood Community College, and Oregon Episcopal School.

My Musical Life Story

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Mike Horsfall has enjoyed a successful and diverse musical career for over 35 years, being in demand as an educator, composer, arranger, adjudicator, recording artist and concert soloist on both piano and vibraphone. He was educated at Central Washington University and the University of Washington, earning a Bachelor of Music degree in piano pedagogy from Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon.  He has studied with Gary Burton, John Moawad, Joe Locke, Mal Waldron and Hal Galper.  

Mike began his musical career in the summer of ‘73, playing baritone horn in Disneyland’s All American College Marching Band.  He spent the next decade touring the country playing keyboards, brass, and vibes in a R & B dance band.  He settled down in Portland with his wife and two daughters in 1980, and went to work establishing his music career.  
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In 1989 Mike co-founded the trio Tall Jazz, playing vibes and piano and serving as musical director.  A widely acclaimed ensemble with 8 CD’s to their name, Tall Jazz was recently inducted into the Jazz Society of Oregon’s Hall Of Fame for its significant presence and mentorship in the area’s jazz scene. 

Besides playing in every jazz club and festival in the Northwest, the trio's 24 years of activity included a wide range of accomplishments, including a tour of Japan, a 3-story high picture of themselves on the side of a building, a popular presentation for public school assemblies, special guest appearances with the Oregon Symphonic Band, a standing ovation for a performance of Claude Bolling's "Sonata for 2 Pianos, Bass, and Drums", and a popular annual Christmas concert - "Winter Jazz" - which featured both Rebecca Kilgore and Marilyn Keller, and resulted in 3 holiday CD's.  For a while, Tall Jazz operated a record company - PHD Music - which represented jazz artists in the Portland area, and had 15 titles on the market, including Mike’s solo piano CD recorded in 1998 ("I Thought About You" PHD-1008).    

When the economy started to fishtail and Portland's jazz scene began to change once again, Mike diversified, and began writing arrangements for vocalists and small ensembles, eventually working his way into the vocal jazz ensemble genre, where his works have been performed by choirs from Willamette University, Clark College, Eastern Washington University, and Rex Putnam High School.  His acclaimed composing and arranging skills can by heard on any of the eight recordings that Tall Jazz has on the PHD label, or with several of Portland’s premier vocalists, such as Valerie Day, Rebecca Kilgore, Karla Harris, Marilyn Keller, Linda Daiber, or Haley Horsfall.  He has collaborated with composer Ellen Vanderslice on several songs, including "Moonshadow Dance" ("Once In A Blue Moon" PHD-1013) which won First Place (Jazz) in the USA Songwriting Contest.

Moonshadow Dance

 

Besides being in demand as a concert soloist, a sideman, or an arranger, Mike is an avid music educator, serving on the music faculties at Willamette University, Mt. Hood Community College, Clark College and Oregon Episcopal School.   In 1994, while working as a pianist for Nordstrom, Mike designed a program giving piano students a chance to perform in the store, thereby in a professional setting.  This opportunity was actively supported by the Oregon Music Teachers Association, and earned wide acclaim from the National Music Teachers Association as well.   His schedule includes accompaning students in styles as diverse as Haydn and Hindemuth to the classic/jazz compositions of Bill Dobbins and Claude Bolling.

An accomplished, well-rounded musician, Mike has performed with a large number of world class artists, including Bud Shank, Bobby Shew, Anat Cohen, Lewis Nash, Kristin Korb, Nicki Parrott, Todd Strait, Christoph Luty, Carl Saunders, Leroy Vinegar, Holly Hofman, Darrell Grant, Rebecca Kilgore and Pete Rugolo.  Mike recently teamed up with vibist Chuck Redd at the Jazz At Newport Festival in Newport OR, where their “dueling” vibes set brought the house down.  He has also performed and recorded with such notable groups as Pink Martini, the Nu Shooz Orchestra, the Portland Chamber Orchestra, and the Art Abrams Swing Machine Big Band.