John Michael a Jazz Rock Bassist and Solo Instrumental Pianist
John’s love affair with the piano began early on while laying awake at night listening to his older brothers and sisters play the piano downstairs…pretending it was he who was playing.
So, at 4 years old, he decided to start “goofing around” with this instrument downstairs he so loved to hear. Self taught, he continued to play. And compose. Finding no real pleasure in playing other people’s music, he simply played his own compositions.
Never personally satisfied with anything he wrote, his writing style continued to evolve as he grew closer and closer to a sense of comfort in his compositions.And then came the bass guitar.At 18 years old, he was given a bass guitar by his sister and promptly ripped out all of the frets. His first amplifier was an accordian amp he borrowed from a friend…the first song he learned was the Stray Cat’s “Stray Cat Strut” (years later he had the opportunity to jokingly personally thank Brian Setzer for this “initial inspiration!”). As with the piano, he taught himself and played by “ear.”And then came the bands.An ever progressing series of bands and bandmates. But with every new bandmate, and every new band, the sound and cohesiveness of the players just got better and better. Never in a cover band (still did not like to play “other peoples music”), John only played bass guitar in bands that wrote their own music. As part of “Scenario,” john played progressive rock (along the lines of Rush and Yes). Playing regularly at venues such as the Roxy, Whiskey-a-Go Go, the Troubador, Madame Wongs and the Country Club, John was no stranger to the L.A./Hollywood/Sunset Strip rock-n-roll scene. But he never stopped playing the piano and composing instrumental piano pieces.Then came the jazz/rock band. This was “Sound Minds,” and was the culmination of his years of experience on the bass and on stage. All instrumental music with a sax player fronting the band, “Sound Minds” put forth a serious blend of progressive rock and contemporary jazz.
With “Sound Minds,” John had the opportunity to share the stage with notable artists such as Grammy award winning saxophonist Gato Barbieri, Lyle Mays (of Pat Metheny fame), Latin star Tania Maria and Thelonius Monk Jr.And then came his wedding…and here’s where john’s musical pathway took a turn.john wrote One Life, One Love as a surprise gift for his wife-to-be. Originally written for solo piano, john thought it might add a nice touch to incorporate a solo violin.
That solo violin turned into 2 violins. A viola was added and finally a cello…in other words, a string quartet. So, keeping with his original plans to play the song (as a surprise) during his wedding ceremony, john hired a string quartet and gave them the sheet music he wrote for them to play their parts. Accompanying him on the piano, the live performance that he gave during the ceremony was indeed a surprise to everyone.When not touring with Yanni or the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Julie Metz played violin with a string quartet.
This was the string quartet that john hired to play the music he wrote for his fiancee. And after hearing and playing One Life, One Love, Julie strongly encouraged john to orchestrate strings along with his piano compositions and put them on CD for others to hear. His first CD, Exit Reality, was born. John quit his jazz band and turned his full attention from the bass guitar to the piano.Promoting it under his own label, Daniel Rabbit Records, Exit Reality did well for an unknown, unsigned artist. john also went on to writing music for t.v., most notably for E! Entertainment Television. His second CD, Isabella’s Music Box, was written and recorded entirely as a gift for his first child, Isabella Danielle. A collection of soothing, instrumental pieces, this CD is available online.Now, after dropping his last name (Otott), and using his first and middle name (John Michael – much easier to pronounce!), John has released his third CD, Road Trip. A contemporary blend of contemporary instruments, Road Trip is uplifting, at times driving, and directly eludes to john’s background as a jazz/rock bassist and a solo instrumental pianist.