Michele Rosewoman, a vanguard and pioneering artist in her field, mines acoustic modern jazz, sophisticated funk, dynamic electric fusion and ecstatic Afro Cuban folklore, to create a distinct musical experience. Her command and rich vocabulary elegantly expands jazz‟s horizons and boundaries, while remaining firmly rooted in tradition. With a more than 20-year history, Rosewoman stands out in her class as a visionary pianist, composer bandleader and gifted performer.
Born in Oakland, California, she studied jazz with the great pianist/organist, Ed Kelly. Studies in percussion led her to avidly explore Cuban and Haitian folkloric idioms. Early in her career, she performed at venues in the San Francisco Bay Area with her own ensembles and with Julian Priester, Julius Hemphill, Baikida Carroll and Oliver Lake and other fellow jazz innovators. In New York, she formed new ensembles and continued to present her music with collaborators Rufus Reid, Reggie Workman, Freddie Waits, James Spaulding, Billy Hart, John Stubblefield, Carlos Ward and the inimitable master drummer/vocalist from Cuba, the late Orlando „Puntilla‟ Rios and other notables
Throughout the years, Rosewoman‟s innovative projects have received critical acclaim as well as highly coveted awards and recognitions. Highlights include major support from the National Endowment for the Arts for “New Yor-Uba, A Musical Celebration of Cuba in America” inspired by the profound collaboration with her mentor, the late Orlando “Puntilla” Rios. In 2008, 2006, and 2003 her project, Quintessence, was awarded by the Chamber Music/Doris Duke Foundation New Works Creation and Presentation Commission, and a Chamber Music America Encore Grant. An ASCAP/Meet the Composer Commission for Emerging Composers -- awarded by Dizzy Gillespie, Marian McPartland and Lester Bowie, culminated in premieres at the Cooper Union Great Hall in New York City, the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, New York featuring the 40-piece Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra.
Quintessence‟s debut recording continues to be noted as one of the best jazz recordings of the decade and her subsequent release, Guardians of the Light was described by NPR, as “spontaneous, serious and mysterious. Rosewoman and her band are jazz believers....keepers of the flame."
Her trio recording, Occasion to Rise was voted one of the year‟s best recordings by six critics‟ polls. A Gavin Report review stated “Michele Rosewoman has probed many important junctures in jazz history. She's fluent in Monk, Bill Evans and Bud Powell, but her influences don't end there....She is a modern day lightning rod to the innovations of the past and the tense uncertainties of today.”
A fearless bandleader and mentor, Rosewoman has brought together some of the most creative voices in jazz, including Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, David Sanchez, Steve Wilson, , Miguel Zenon, and Mark Shim; trombonist Robin Eubanks, bassists Kenny Davis, Lonnie Plaxico and Brad Jones, drummers Terri Lyne Carrington, Gene Jackson and Tyshawn Sorey and guitarist Liberty Ellman. Many have cited that working with Rosewoman made an indelible mark on their artistic development as musicians, composers and bandleaders.
In the Latin genre she has performed with Celia Cruz, Paquito D‟Rivera, Chocolate, Puntilla‟s “Nueva Generacion,” Pedro Martinez, Roman Diaz, Ernesto Gatell, Nicky Marrero, Andy Gonzales and others.
Rosewoman performs at festivals, concert halls and clubs and conducts educational workshops at colleges and universities throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe. She teaches privately and has held past and current positions at NYU and the New School, serves on faculty of Jazz Connections in Montclair, NJ (now a part of JazzHouse Kids) and conducts workshops at the Berkeley Jazz School.
CD Now stated that “Michele Rosewoman is way past collecting influences. Simply put, she's one of the most creative and fully realized jazz artists on the scene today” which fittingly reflects her impact, commitment and passion. Thus, Ms. Rosewoman is highly regarded as one of the most ingenious composers and prolific bandleaders of her generation—a reputation she enjoys to this day.