Michel Pilz - Biography
"A most resourceful bass-clarinetist..."
Probably one of the most recognizable jazz musicians in Europe today, tall and lanky Michel Pilz and his long bass-clarinet are a popular club and concert feature.
Considered early on as a successor to the great Eric Dolphy, Michel has dedicated his career exclusively to the mastery of this extraordinary woodwind.
Photography by Valerios Ioannidis
Georg Ruby (piano)

He was born in Germany (Bad Neustadt/Saale), and grew up in Luxembourg, where he studied classical clarinet at the conservatory.  He then opted for a career in jazz playing the larger instrument, first joining the Manfred Schoof Quintet in 1968 (with Alex von Schlippenbach, Buschi Niebergall and Mani Neumeier).

In the 1970's, Michel toured in the Near East, Asia and South America with the quintet, the "German All Stars," the "Globe Unity Orchestra," and, in Japan, with trumpeter Itaru Oki.  Over the years, he has performed at numerous international jazz festivals, including Montreux, Bombay, Tokyo, Frankfurt and Chateau-Vallon.  In October, 1999, his trio represented Germany at the European Jazz Festival in Damascus.

Michel has produced several recordings, including, most recently, "Jamabiko" (MP 841) and "Melu-Sina" (Drops CD 16).  His next CD, to be entitled "Arbor," will be out in early 2001.  Today, Michel resides again in Luxembourg, where he teaches and plays local engagements.  He also travels frequently for appearances in Germany, France, and elsewhere in Europe.  He plays primarily with the Michel Pilz Trio, including Christian Ramond on bass and Klaus Kugel on drums.  Itaru Oki often joins the group to form the Pilz-Oki Quartet for selected dates.

The potential of music as a means of enhancing international understanding became clear to Michel with his first overseas experiences.  He has consistently attempted to include local musicians in his international appearances, believing the promotion of such relationships to be a critical element in the musician's art.

Critics' Corner

"Pilz is a most resourceful bass-clarinetist whose main virtue is an almost Chicago-like devotion
to solo shape..."

-John Litweiler in "Downbeat"

"Michel Pilz, whose sole instrument is the bass-clarinet, has carried the Eric Dolphy legacy into the Free Jazz Era....He is a master of contradictory musical lines, flowing from the strong and furious, to the soft and warm." 

-J. E. Behrendt in his "Jazzbuch."

"I have enjoyed Michel Pilz's music for a long time.... A music I like, and whose claim is clear.  In short:  music at the top of our time."

-Bert Noglik, jazz critic.

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