Mike Janzen Bio
Mike Janzen is a Manitoba-raised, Toronto-based jazz pianist, composer, and singer whose music is a beautiful blend of jazz, folk, and classical. He has “a rare and infectious gift” (Steve Bell) that has been showcased in varied venues across Canada. Janzen has worked and performed with luminary musicians such as Hugh Marsh, Daniel Lanois, Kevin Breit, Phil Dwyer, Sarah Slean, Terry Clarke, Ben Riley, Andrew Downing, Davide DiRenzo, and Steve Bell. His unique background in disciplines of jazz, classical, and popular music combined with his technical piano prowess led Geoff Chapman (Wholenote) to exclaim, “What’s enthralling is Janzen’s writing, woven with wit and inventiveness and his playing’s sheer exuberance.”
Janzen also heads up the Mike Janzen Trio, which is made up of world-class musicians George Koller (Holly Cole, Shuffle Demons), Larnell Lewis (Snarky Puppy) and Mike Janzen himself on vocals and piano. Described as “richly imaginative” by Christopher Loudon (Jazz Times), their music melds jazz, rock and folk in an engaging blend of standards, explorative versions of popular songs, and well-crafted originals. The trio has performed at festivals across Canada, including the Toronto International Jazz Festival, the Wreckhouse Jazz Festival and the Port Hope All-Canadian Jazz Festival. They have sold over 15,000 units and have enjoyed great success on radio programs across the country (CBC Tonic, Jazz 91.1). The trio has won multiple GMA awards for best album of the year and their arrangement of “Mrs. Robinson” was named one of the top songs of 2008 at Jazz 91.1.
Janzen’s most recent album, Nudging Forever, features the trio along with Kevin Turcotte (flugelhorn) and a 19-piece string orchestra led by Marie Bérard. Nudging Forever was released on November 6, 2015 at a sold-out Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. Combining Janzen’s considerable jazz talent with his gift for composing, Nudging Forever melds the richness of a 20-piece string orchestra with the spontaneity of a jazz quartet. This singular and imaginative endeavour displays his unique talent in both jazz and classical spheres. Nudging Forever was honoured with a JUNO Award nomination in 2017 (Jazz Album of the Year: Solo).
Mike Janzen is one of this country’s top orchestral arrangers, commissioned by the CBC (Bending Hendrix) and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (How can I keep from singing?). In 2011, Janzen made his Massey Hall debut with Steve Bell and the Toronto Symphony. Janzen’s original creation, Reimagining Broadway, made its world premiere in November of 2014 as part of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra’s POP series. The weekend show featured Mike Janzen (piano/voice) together with George Koller (bass), Davide Direnzo (drums), the amazing Sarah Slean and 16 new arrangements for the symphony orchestra. The debut was called “invigorating” by JF Phaneuf (artistic director); the arrangements praised as “delightful” (Gwen Hoebig, Concertmaster WSO) and “brilliant” (Holly Harris, Winnipeg Free Press). The show made the top ten musical concerts of 2014 (Winnipeg Free Press). In October 2016, the Mike Janzen Trio joined Sarah Slean and the Regina Symphony Orchestra for another night of Reimagining Broadway.
Janzen’s musical approach has been referred to as “the best kind of unpredictable” (Josh Grossman, artistic director, Toronto Jazz Festival) and led Jazz 91.1 host Terry McElligott to remark, “Clearly, Mike is one to watch in Canada’s music sphere”.
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