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Michael Musillami

Michael Musillami began his professional career as a respected, straight-ahead mainstream jazz guitarist, but through the years has become a distinct presence on the creative improvisers scene, most notably as a composer. Born in Sacramento, CA on July 28, 1953, his parents were supportive of his blossoming talent, though they were not musicians themselves. Initially swayed by rock music because of his electric, amplified instrument, Musillami's early inspiration came from jazz players like Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Bill Evans. Initially enrolling at American River College, there for two years and interested in anthropology, he took up guitar studies in Compton with the great Joe Diorio in 1979 before heading east in the early '80s. He connected with John Mehegan in 1982 in Westport, CT, then Ted Dunbar in Camden, NJ. Professionally, Musillami was working in organ combos with Richard "Groove" Holmes and Bobby Buster, among others. As a sideman, he also played alongside Junior Cook, Dewey Redman, or Curtis Fuller, and connected with musicians who performed at the Hillside Club in Waterbury, CT, including more progressive thinkers Thomas Chapin and Mario Pavone. After several recordings on independent labels starting with The Young Child (Stash Records, 1990) and Glass Art (Evidence,1992), Musillami founded the Playscape label in 1999 to allow a more self-determining aspect in making original music with his handpicked friends and colleagues. Some of the musicians Musillami invited to join the fold include Peter Madsen, Drew Gress, Matt Wilson, Joe Fonda, and George Schuller. Playscape has produced over 40 CD's of creative progressive and modern mainstream jazz music, a dozen or so from the guitarist as a leader. In addition to recording and performing, Musillami has been also the longtime director of jazz studies at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, CT. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi
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