"I'm always playing...because that's what I love to do--that's where it's at...besides, I think I may be a work-a-holic."
Indeed, Rob Michael, guitarist and co-leader of the Atmos Trio, can be found all over the San Francisco Bay area music scene.
Along with the activities involved with keeping-up with the Atmos Trio, Rob is one of the most sought-after music educators around. "I teach, in part, as a matter of responsibility. It's give and take: pursuing any artistic endeavor is a search, and if I can help my students with that search, and hopefully provide some inspiration to continue finding new, relevant material or an approach to some facet of music, then I'm happy to do that."
Joe Henderson Memorial Big Band
Though the Atmos Trio is one of Rob's most visible musical outlets, there are plenty of other settings in which the keen listener can find him: One is the "Joe Henderson Memorial Big Band." This group is lead by long-time Joe Henderson sideman, trumpet player Warren Gale Jr. "Warren has a deep understanding of Joe's music and it's a real privilege to be playing alongside him, as well as many of the other world-class musicians in the band: it's a super-strong collections of musicians. It's also a real challenge to, not only play this advanced modern music authentically, but to have to follow one of Warren's masterpiece-grade solos with an improvisation of your own---it's a 'kick in the backside' that I welcome--but sometimes I think: 'What am I supposed to play after THAT?'
The “Joe Henderson Memorial Big Band” will be performing at Yoshi’s San Francisco on Monday, May 12th.
Both Rob Michael & Atmos’ drummer Joe Shotwell can be heard in another setting in the latin fusion group “Diamante.” This group is lead by guitarist Tom Duarte. The group plays different configurations: sometimes as a guitar duo with Rob & Tom, trio with guitar and percussion, still other times a quartet which included bassist Jack Hines.
Rob Michael: Solo Guitar
This is Rob in “Stealth-mode.” “It’s funny. When I play solo gigs, it’s usually for some private event, typically somewhere in Northern California’s Napa/ Sonoma Valley, where they want background solo guitar, not so much as a feature, but to provide a more upscale ambience: a background function.” Time-and-time again however, attention makes it’s way to the guitarist who seems almost “too good” to functions strictly as accompaniment to dinner and chatter becomes: ‘Do you hear this guy? Check him out!’ “That always cracks me up.”
“Solo guitar is, logistically, a musical challenge: you play the bass function, chords changes, melodies, solos and provide the groove, all at the same time. It’s also really fun though. It’s almost an exercise in free association. I play a tune, segue to a different song or simply allude to a different song, and then return--or not. This can sometimes go on for hours at a stretch. Good times.”
So, keep your eyes and ears open. When someone asks: “Hey Rob, are you playing anywhere sometime soon?” The answer is almost always “yes.”