Mike Wofford - Piano
A native Texan, pianist Mike Wofford was raised in San Diego, California, where he resides currently. His mother was a professional singer, and he began piano lessons at age seven. After attending San Diego State University, he moved to Los Angeles and entered the jazz scene there during the early 1960s.
His first professional performances were with the legendary Lighthouse All-Stars and the bands of Shelly Manne, Teddy Edwards, Chet Baker, Bud Shank and Shorty Rogers. It was during this time that he appeared on his first jazz recordings, with Mel Torme, Gary Burton and Joe Pass. Also, while becoming active as a studio session pianist and arranger, he recorded his first album as a leader.
In the 1970s, Mike toured Europe with Shelly Manne and Lee Konitz, and subsequently became the pianist and music director for Sarah Vaughan. His most active touring schedule began in the early 1980s with tours in Japan with Harry “Sweets” Edison, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, and Zoot Sims. In 1988 Mike returned to Japan with the Benny Carter Orchestra and in the fall of that same year traveled to Brazil with the Benny Carter Quartet. In 1989 he became pianist and music director for Ella Fitzgerald until her retirement in 1992. He was also the house pianist in the during this time at San Diego’s two national jazz clubs, Elario’s and the Horton Grand Hotel. At these venues he performed with Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson, Art Farmer, Charlie Haden and Slide Hampton, James Moody, Charles McPherson and Ray Brown among many others.
Having appeared on over a hundred recordings as a sideman, Mike now continues to record and perform primarily as a leader. He has received great critical acclaim for his “Live at Maybeck” volume 18 in the Concord Records solo piano series. His 2004 cd “Live at Athenaeum Jazz” features bassist Peter Washington and drummer Victor Lewis. Mike also writes for and tours with the all-star sextet, “Flutology” featuring Frank Wess, Holly Hofmann, Ali Ryerson, Peter Washington and Ben Riley. He’s also currently touring and recording with the Bud Shank/Phil Woods Quintet.
Quoting jazz legend Benny Golson, “I could sum up Mike in one word: quintessential. He is the essence of a jazz pianist in his purest and most concentrated form.”