Jean-Michel Pilc plays with an unobstructed view of music and harmony

The Artistry of… Jean-Michel Pilc

Paris-born Jean-Michel Pilc’s artistry comes from an expansive imagination and a fearless sensibility of musical exploration.

He is self-taught as a piano player and composer. There is liberty that comes with that, an unobstructed view of the palette of music and harmony. A reliance upon the ear and experience and immersion that can bring perspectives that are not formally steeped in traditions. Elements of tradition are absorbed differently and can be played with and adapted to fit into differently shaped compartments and places that may not be as readily approached by other artists who may be differently prepared.

In Canada, Pilc is associated with McGill University’s Schulich School of Music where he is an associate professor of music performance in jazz. These words of Harry Belafonte, for whom Pilc was music director, describe the piano player: “It is the unpredictability that is central to his remarkable talent. As one listens to each selection, be they vintage or newborn, one is taken into his world of improvisation where the unexpected is constant.”

Ben Ratliff of The New York Times used these words: “Mr. Pilc seems to have dropped from the sky fully formed, with technique and his ideas in place. He is a physical and densely harmonic player, a splashy stunner who also has a Rubik’s-cube mind for chord substitutions.”

Pilc embodies imagination, fearlessness, and freedom. Expressive liberty is the artistry.



The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.


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