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Featured Artist - Mike Longo

Mike Longo was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1937 to parents who had a musical background. His father played bass, his mother played organ in the church and his musical training began at a young age.


Mike recalled seeing Sugar Chile Robinson playing boogie-woogie piano citing ‘The first time I saw him, man, he knocked me out'.

Mike Longo's career began in his father's band, but later Cannonball Adderley helped him get gigs of his own. Their working relationship pre-dated Adderley's emergence as a band leader himself. Adderley approached the teenaged Longo because he needed a pianist at his church. At this time the town was largely segregated, so Longo playing at a black church was quite unusual. This led to recordings with Adderley in the mid-1950’s, however Longo was still too young to go to nightclubs with him. He played at the renowned Porky's which was later portrayed in the movie of the same name and he would go on to receive his Bachelor of Music degree from Western Kentucky University.

Dizzy Gillespie heard Longo at the Metropole. ‘I was playing downstairs with Red Allen and Dizzy was playing upstairs with his band, so every time he wanted to go outside for a break he had to come down the stairs and pass us on the way out. There was a joint across the street called the Copper Rail which was a soul food restaurant and a bar where the musicians from the Metropole would all hang out. Soon after I learned that Dizzy had mentioned me in an interview in International Musician, the musician union's magazine, when he was asked about any promising young musicians of note that he had heard playing’ 

He was a fan of Canadian Oscar Peterson from a young age and he actually studied with the pianist from 1961 to 1962. ‘In terms of technique and touch I was playing with locked wrists and too much arm technique. The main thing I got from Peterson was how to play piano and how to be a jazz pianist showcasing textures, voicings, touch, time, conception and tonality on the instrument.’

In the 1960’s Longo began to lead the Mike Longo Trio which would remain active for the next 42 years. Gillespie was playing at the Metropole again and Longo, who was at that time depressed after divorcing his first wife, had just gained a gig at Embers West playing with Roy Eldridge. Eldridge brought Gillespie to see Longo playing with former Miles Davis bassist, Paul Chambers.

Gillespie hired Longo the very next day and he became the musical director for the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet and later Gillespie chose him to be the pianist for the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Band. From 1966 onward his music career would be linked to Gillespie. In 1993 Longo was actually with Dizzy on the night that he died and later he delivered a eulogy at his funeral.

Longo performed at weekly jazz sessions held at the Baha’i  Center in honor of Gillespie, a tradition he helped start. Like Gillespie he was a member of the Baháʼí Faith.  Longo also taught a masterclass to up-and-coming jazz musicians including Adam RaffertyNate Andersen, and John Austria.

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Featured Artist - Mike Longo

Longo's big band, the New York State of the Art Jazz Ensemble, played at the center intermittently and provided upcoming musicians with a chance to learn 'on stage' and conversley the audience received a jazz experience at a very reasonable cost.

A notable part of Mike Longo's mission was to re-establish the apprenticeship relationship in teaching jazz.  He said ‘I know that jazz education is an important element and I know that the field means well, but there seems to be a trend in that field to teach jazz where people are actually 'copying off recordings' instead of actually 'learning to play jazz'. The ‘apprenticeship aspect of jazz’ has always been the way it has evolved.’

Mike Longo received a scholarship from the Ft. Lauderdale Symphony Orchestra in 1955, a Downbeat Hall of Fame Scholarship in 1959, and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant in 1972. He was inducted into Western Kentucky University's Wall of Fame in 2002.

Mike Longo passed away in Manhattan on March 23, 2020, three days after his 83rd birthday from complications of COVID-19.

Mike’s legacy lives on in the Consolidated Artists Productions label and publishing company that he founded in 1999. CAP has released over 150 titles and has launched and furthered the careers of many jazz artists.

‘This man was my beloved guru and second father. To say he was a music teacher doesn’t do him justice. He was the one I called several times a day for personal and spiritual guidance. He took me under his wing and mentored me. He was a beacon of truth and light and a best friend’.
Adam Rafferty

Consolidated Artists Productions have recently released a favourite Mike Longo album called To My Surprise featuring The Mike Longo Trio + 2 which feature Mike Longo - Piano, Bob Cranshaw - Bass, Lewis Nash - Drums, Jimmy Owens - Trumpet & Flugelhorn and Lance Bryant - Tenor Sax.

Also see :- Consolidated Artists Productions
Also see :- Connoissuer Jazz
Also see :- Jazz Music Central
Also see :- The History Of Jazz
Also see :- Get Involved
Also see :- Music Reviews
Also see :- Contact Us

Former Featured Artists :-

Rob Mullins
Chieli Minucci
Richard Sorce
Carl Roland
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