Mike Karn

  • Mike Karn
  • Instruments: Tenor Sax

  • Biography:

    Saxophonist and bassist Michael Karn has been involved in the New York jazz scene for more than 20 years, and in that time he has worked with many of the music worlds most creative artists.

       Michael started in music as a tenor saxophonist, and after graduating high school he attended New York University, where his teachers were Joe Lovano and Jim McNeely. After college Michael immediately joined the Ray Charles Orchestra, and spent 1988 and '89 touring the United States, Europe, and Japan. Michael appeared with Ray at the Northsea and Playboy Jazz Festivals, and at such venues as the Blue Note, The Hollywood Bowl, Lincoln Center, and the Wolftrap Center for the Performing Arts.

       At the beginning of 1990 Michael resettled in New York, and since then he has been both a member of several top-flight ensembles, and an in-demand freelancer. In 1997, Michael began working with organ powerhouse Charles Earland, remaining with The Mighty Burner until his untimely death in late 1999. Michael toured extensively with Earland, and appears on two CD releases on the Highnote label, Stomp and Irene Reid s The Uptown Lowdown, which features the former Count Basie vocalist singing in front of Earland's band. At the same time, Michael worked with former Jazz Messenger Valery Ponamarev in a band that included drum legend Jimmy Cobb. This association resulted in a recording on the Reservoir label entitled The Messenger. In late 2001, Michael joined the big band of Harry Connick Jr., participating in several tours of the United States and Canada. In his five and a half years with Harry, Michael, appeared at the 2004 Newport Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center, and the Grand Ole Opry, as well as making numerous television appearances in the U.S. and England, several of them as a featured soloist. He appears on four of Harrys CDs, Only You, Harry For The Holidays, Oh, My Nola, and Chanson Du Vieux Carre, as well as two DVDs, Harry For The Holidays and Only You In Concert. A small sampling of Michaels freelance credits includes performances and/or recordings with Andy Bey, Harold Mabern, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Dave Liebman, Danny Moore, Junior Mance, Hilton Ruiz, Larry Goldings, Mike LeDonne, Michael Weiss, Albert Tootie Heath, Billy Hart, Lenny White, Charlie Persip, Killer Ray Appleton, Ben Allison, Joey DeFrancesco, Bill Doggett, and even Run/DMC. In addition to his sideman work, Michael is a bandleader and composer in his own right, and his groups have been featured at clubs, festivals and universities in New York and throughout the country. He has also released two CD's as a leader, both on the Criss Cross Jazz label. "Head To Head" is a rousing two tenor date with Jerry Weldon, and "In Focus" finds Michael sharing the front line with guitarist Peter Bernstein. Both albums were well reviewed in periodicals such as Down Beat, The All-Music Guide and Cadence, and recieved significant airplay in both the New York area and nation-wide.

        In addition, in a very short period of time Michael has established himself as a busy and in-demand bass player, performing throughout the United States as well as Europe and Japan. He has appeared with such artists as Jimmy Heath, The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Jon Hendricks, Frank Wess, Harold Mabern, Johnny O'Neal, Benny Wallace, Lew Tabakin, Harry Allen, Eric Alexander, Bucky Pizzarelli, Gene Bertoncini and Peter Bernstein, at venues such as The Village Vanguard, Avery Fisher Hall, Rose Hall and Dizzy's at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Smalls, Smoke, Iridium, The Jazz Standard, The Carlyle Hotel and Knickerbocker