Michael Ephron

Michael Ephron has had an intriguing musical career so far. Born in Wales to parents of Russian origin, he grew up in Sussex. Age 8 he first taught himself the banjo then guitar and piano, experimenting with sounds for hours on the piano after closing time in the piano department of his father’s store. He also sang. Age 17 he travelled from Scandinavia to the Middle East playing guitar in clubs and coffee houses, gaining valuable life experience along the way. Then he took up writing and moved to New York City.

Invited to read at Poetry and Jazz nights, he began to impact the national Spoken Word scene. But he subsequently decided that, after all, music, rather than words, was his life’s vocation, though his understanding and love of language has never left him, as can be seen in his lyrics.

Perry Robinson the celebrated clarinettist, assured him that if he persevered with his technique for a year, he would be good enough to appear on the NYC jazz scene and promised to introduce him to big name players if he did. Michael went up to Woodstock, and took to a rigorous daily schedule of 10 and 12 hour practice sessions. After a year Robinson declared him ready for New York. There his loft, after Perry began bringing around musicians, became a well known 24/7 drop in centre for musicians, with sometimes as many as 20 musicians jamming at one time. He played at Slugs Bar sitting in with Ornette Coleman and Sonny Murray. He appeared at the Pan African festival in Algiers with Archie Schepp, recorded with Alan Silva and Downbeat Award winner, Barry Altschul and toured Europe with Alan Silva. He played with bluesmen B.B King and T Bone Walker at the Filmore East. He earned a reputation as an experimenter who recognized no musical frontiers. And his influence on other jazz piano players became apparent. He was the initiator of the musical movement that breached the previously insurmountable barriers between the Rock and Jazz worlds.

When Jimi Hendrix himself decided to explore new musical territory he sought out a collaborator and Michael was recommended by Juma Sultan, his percussionist. Jimi and Michael hit it off (their very first jam lasted 12 hours with no meal breaks). More explorations followed with Hendrix including with musicians such as Sam Rivers the eminent jazz saxophonist and composer, and internationally known rock musicians. Several bootlegs of these sessions have appeared, and an article by Sheila Weller was published in Rolling Stone magazine. Read the article – Jimi Hendrix: I Don’t Want To Be A Clown Anymore.

Another evolution then took place: Michael came in from the edge, starting a funk band, The Word, in Seattle, and beginning to write songs and produce. He brought some demos to Stevie Wonder who impressed contacted RCA Records and shortly after The Word were recording in their LA studios and with Esmond Edwards at ABC records.. An album followed due to be released on Strata East, Gil Scott Heron’s Label.

But Michael had personal demons and lost a decade in the wilderness in a painful struggle to overcome them. Finally having beaten the odds he began to write music and record again, co-producing with Ednah Holt from the Talking Heads and Sting’s backing singers, recording with musicians such as Michael Brecker and earning plaudits from musicians such as David Sanborn and James Taylor.

He was invited back to the UK to be the Studio Manager and Creative Director of Firehouse Studios where groups such as Sound on Sound first found their feet, pioneering new artists and writing and recording.
His new album, Sweet Bitter Dreams-Music Dark n Delicious, featuring Laroca Rye was recorded in the Philippines with their world class musicians, and players from New York, Memphis and the UK, taking 4 years to complete.
Michael has always been a musicians’ musician shunning the limelight, feeling most comfortable in the recording studio where he excels in helping musicians to explore their potential and in bringing out their best performances.

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