Michael Kocour

ASU jazz studies professor releases critically acclaimed CD

By

Lynne MacDonald

Michael Kocour, associate professor and director of the Arizona State University School of Music jazz studies program, recently released his second solo CD. “East of the Sun” is comprised of 10 Great American Songbook classic solo piano recordings. The CD was commercially released on OA2 records to rave reviews in the global jazz community.  

“Kocour’s latest release reveals a captivating storyteller whose piano playing reaches beyond the stage, intimately enticing listeners inside his music where the magic takes place,” writes OA2.

“I rarely program with any theme in mind,” Kocour said. “Instead, I try to come up with a varied program of tunes just as I would in a live performance. The tunes I choose are ones that intrigue and challenge me in some way.”

Downbeat Magazine’s review by Ed Enright describes Kocour as bringing “formidable technique and exquisite touch” to his songs. “Kocour not only nails all the changes of these old, familiar tunes; he crafts well-anchored structures out of them.”

In addition to seven prior CD releases, Kocour has composed and arranged pieces for big band, little big band, jazz sextet, saxophone ensembles and orchestra. His first solo CD, “Wherever You Go, There You Are,” was released in 2004 and an ensemble release of jazz and original compositions in 2006, “Speaking in Tongues,” included some solo piano tracks.

Kocour is a jazz pianist, organist and composer whose career spans more than three decades. He is also a director of The Nash’s signature Nash Legacy Ensembles, an auditioned group of talented high school jazz musicians from the Phoenix area who explore jazz styles, composition and arranging, improvisation and small-group performances.