Mike Janzen is reimagining recovery. Previously, this multi-talented pianist and composer reinterpreted Broadway tunes in fresh and invigorating ways in his orchestral show Reimagining Broadway. He combined the richness of a string orchestra with the spontaneity of a jazz quartet in the JUNO-nominated Nudging Forever (2015). His many projects and performances were put on an abrupt hold, however, when he suffered a concussion in April of 2016. Now he is reimagining ways to rewire his brain so that recovery can happen. He is discovering that the music he loves has become an integral part of the process of healing. And this long season of recovery has brought with it both a new perspective and new fertile ground from which to create.
Music has informed and shaped Mike’s entire life. His unique background in disciplines of jazz, classical, and popular music combined with his technical piano prowess led Geoff Chapman (Wholenote) to exclaim, “What’s enthralling is Janzen’s writing, woven with wit and inventiveness and his playing’s sheer exuberance.” In his role as heading up the Mike Janzen Trio (featuring Mike, George Koller, and Larnell Lewis or Davide Direnzo), Mike has released four studio albums and has performed an engaging blend of standards and well-crafted originals at jazz festivals across Canada. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with and performed with luminary musicians such as Daniel Lanois, Hugh Marsh, Sarah Slean, Steve Bell, Ben Riley, Davide Direnzo, and Phil Dwyer.
His portfolio includes commissioned pieces for the CBC, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and Steve Bell, as well as original arrangements of Broadway tunes for the symphony orchestra, which he performs with Sarah Slean and the Mike Janzen Trio across the country. In 2015, he released an album, Nudging Forever, that displays his unique talent in both jazz and classical spheres. The JUNO-nominated album is a composition on the theme of time following the Benedictine hours of prayer. Featuring interplay between a 20-piece string orchestra and Mike’s jazz trio, the songs blur the traditional lines between classical and jazz music.
Now, Mike’s latest release, Lent, features 11 arrangements of well-loved hymns and spirituals, which his concussion injury forced him to arrange and play quite differently from when he was healthy. The result is music profound in its simplicity and rich in its longing for better days.
News & Updates
March 4, 2019
Well it’s been a few years since I’ve been able to have the stamina to release a new record but finally the day has come! On March 6th I’m putting out a new album, Lent, that features sacred solo piano pieces from the spring season leading up until Easter.
For many years now I've wanted to release a solo piano album of these Lenten/holy week hymns that we’ve sung at our church in Toronto. As I’ve been recovering from a concussion I've found these simple melodies to be profound vehicles of creating and healing. I was going to wait until I had recovered fully to record these; however, as I played through the pieces I realized that my injury would force me to play these quite different than if I was healthy.
A huge thanks to all of you who have kept us afloat over these last years. Being able to work on this music wouldn’t have happened without all of you…we are deeply grateful.
My hope is that this music is resonant in your journey…both the joys and the losses…and that these arrangements will be a sort of soundtrack for these next months where the days lengthen and spring returns.
Like what you hear? Would you like to support Mike’s upcoming projects? Click here to make a donation to IMAGO, an organization dedicated to facilitating creative arts initiatives in Canada. Specify “Mike Janzen” in the message box and your donation will go straight to funding Mike’s upcoming projects. IMAGO is a registered charity and donations are tax-deductible.
Upcoming Live Performances
DEC 21 2018: Carols by Candlelight (with Laila Biali)
Little Trinity Church, Toronto, ON
DEC 7 & 8 2018: Christmas Symphony Concert (with Steve Bell and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra)
West Highland Church, Hamilton, ON
APRIL 21 & 22 2018: Broadway Reimagined (with Sarah Slean, the Mike Janzen Trio, and the Niagara Symphony Orchestra)
Partridge Hall, St. Catharines, ON