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Title Show Information
NYU Jazz Brunch: Michael Wolff Ensemble

2020-04-19
Showtime: 11:30AM
Doors Open at 10:30AM

MAKE RESERVATION
BAR TABLE
n/a $39.50



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NYU Jazz Brunch: Michael Wolff Ensemble


**Price includes brunch, music and a drink.**


In the summer of 2015, a grueling and often bewildering four-year battle with a rare cancer had the acclaimed pianist-composer Michael Wolff on the ropes. He’d fallen into a coma at a New York hospital, and the prognosis had moved from doubtful to defeated. His sons Nat and Alex, in the midst of their ascent as two of the most talented actors of their generation, had returned home to be with their father and try to comfort him. They played guitars and sang at his bedside, tapping into the sweet, winsome gifts that had made the Wolffs a famous musical family nearly a decade earlier, via the hit TV series The Naked Brothers Band. At one point, as Wolff was being cared for by his wife, the award-winning actress, director and writer Polly Draper, a doctor asked her if she’d signed a Do Not Resuscitate order. Through the haze of drugs and debilitating illness, Wolff interjected. Lifting his head up, he growled: “Resuscitate me!”

“I guess it just wasn’t my time,” he recalls today, chuckling.

Indeed, Wolff had plenty more life to live and music to make—including Swirl, his radiant new Sunnyside piano-trio album featuring bassist Ben Allison and drummer Allan Mednard. Now 66 and completely free of cancer (and cancer medications), Wolff has seen his personal and creative outlook transform in the profound way that occurs only in those who have been, as the pianist puts it, “to the brink and back.” “My view of life, art and music has changed, developed, matured, widened and focused simultaneously,” says Wolff, who continued to practice and compose diligently throughout his fight. “I savor every day, every view, every person I love and every note I can play and hear.”

Wolff became a part of pop culture in 1989, when he began a five-year tenure as the musical director of the lively house band on Arsenio Hall’s groundbreaking late-night talk show. (Yes, that was Wolff accompanying saxophonist and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton in 1992, and backing the likes of Ray Charles, B.B. King, Patti LaBelle, Whitney Houston, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Al Green, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis and Warren Zevon.) Later that decade, he composed the score for and co-produced the raved-about film The Tic Code. Starring Gregory Hines and Draper, who also wrote its original screenplay, The Tic Code was inspired by both Wolff’s love for jazz and his lifelong struggle with Tourette syndrome. He returned as a TV fixture in 2007, playing the zany but lovable dad on The Naked Brothers Band and co-producing the series’ soundtrack albums of his sons’ original music.

 

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