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November 10, 2012
Yoshi's Local Talent Series: Free Live Music in The Lounge 6:30pm to 10pm!
Michael O’Neill, a San Diego native, began studying clarinet at an early age. One of his first influences was his neighbor, the great jazz and studio drummer, saxophonist, and clarinetist, John Guerin who helped Michael with his first band in Junior High School. After the usual involvement with school bands and orchestras, Michael did a stint in the Air Force Band. Later, he entered college as a biology major with a music minor. He studied composition and arranging as well as jazz performance while playing in clubs to pay for living expenses.
After graduating from college, Michael began a career in biology, and then entered graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Insect Physiology at Texas A&M University. Once again, Michael began playing music professionally for financial and recreational reasons in his off hours. After two years of graduate school, he decided to dedicate himself to a full time career in music (as with Duke Ellington, music was Michael’s jealous mistress). Upon returning to the Bay Area, he began studying with the great Joe Henderson while playing in dance bands, salsa bands and doing local jazz gigs.
Michael became very involved with composition and formed groups to perform his original material. This started a trend that is ongoing today with his current quintet which features vocalist extraordinaire Kenny Washington. Besides jazz composition, Michael’s interests have taken him into orchestral and ethnic musical forms. In the 1980's he began to write music for corporate and industrial films, which led to documentary and television film scoring for which he now has a long list of credits.
Michael now leads several jazz groups in the Bay Area. He is in his fourth year of weekly performances with his quartet at the Ritz Carlton, and recently concluded a seven year plus engagement with his quartet at Cetrella in Half Moon Bay. He has performed with several of the Bay Area’s leading big bands, including a two-year stint with the Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. He plays frequently at all the leading jazz venues in the Bay Area including Yoshi’s San Francisco and Oakland, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, and The Jazz School.
The Michael O'Neill Quartet featuring Kenny Washington was a headliner at the 2011 San Jose Jazz Festival. In the recent past he has performed frequently at Bay Area venues including Jazz at Pearl’s, Anna’s Jazz Island, the Jazz on the Hill Festival, the Oakland Art and Soul Festival, the San Jose Jazz Society Concert Series and many others as well as the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles.
Michael has performed and/or recorded with Idris Muhammad, Joe Locke, Michael Wolff, Giacomo Gates, Eddie Fisher, Rodney Jones, Kim Nalley, Jackie Ryan, Tony Lindsay, Margie Baker, Akira Tana, Faye Carol, Brenda Boykin, Nicolas Bearde, Jeff Chambers, Rob Schneiderman, Mark Levine, Frank Jackson, Frank Martin, Larry Dunlap, Bobbi Norris, Peter Horvath, Matt Clark, Smith Dobson, Don Haas, Dave Mathews, Michael Bluestein, Omar Clay, Scott Morris and many others.
Michael’s major recordings include The Long and the Short of It featuring Kenny Washington, Still Dancin’ also featuring Kenny Washington with special guest Joe Locke, and Margie Baker and Friends Live at Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society. His CDs – The Long and the Short of It and Still Dancin’ – continue to be praised by jazz DJs and fans across the country.