Michelle Gregoire, MMus
“Grégoire is clearly in command of a broader harmonic knowledge, yet her playing style is all about elegance, subtlety, and understatement. No sharp edges mar her approach, and she builds her solos gradually and with great care.” – John Kelman – All About Jazz
A talented composer and versatile performer, Michelle grew up in a small francophone community outside of Winnipeg. Music studies began at a very young age with the Yamaha music program where she won several competitions including a national competition in Toronto at the age of 14. By the time she was 17, she was working professionally performing at “Le 100 Nons” as a houseband musician and freelancing in the local Winnipeg scene with established artists such as Walle Larsson and Larry Roy. She appeared in the CBC telecast “A Celebration of Promise” which featured promising young artists. At the age of 19, she pursued jazz studies at the university level.
Michelle graduated with a Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from the Florida State University. She also holds an undergraduate jazz degree from St. Francis Xavier University and attended the Hugh Fraser Jazz Orchestra Residency in Banff where she worked with Maria Schneider in 2002 and Kenny Wheeler in 2004. She has also studied privately with world renowned composer Bob Brookmeyer.
While at FSU, Michelle was a teaching assistant, directed the FSU Jazz Ensemble II, taught private students, and some improvisation courses. She was composer in residence and was featured in FSU’s prestigious International Festival of New Music. She also scored a film which won a Student Emmy in the Musical Production category.
Currently an active freelance musician in Calgary (formerly Winnipeg), Michelle maintains a solid reputation as a sideperson and band leader having worked with the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra since its inception in 1997 where she performed with artists like Bill Watrous, Phil Nimmons, Kirk MacDonald, Byron Stripling and many others. She is also in great demand as a sideperson having performing locally with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Stefan Bauer, Larry Roy, Walle Larsson, Ma-Anne Dionisio, and Fred Penner to name a few.
Also active in the francophone music scene Michelle acts as musical director for various CBC and TVO radio and television productions such as “Le Chant Ouest”, “Le Gala Manitobain de la Chanson”, “En Eclosion” and is a houseband member for the TV series “Un air de famille”.
Michelle has also appeared with renown artists such as Amy Sky, Marc Jordan, Steve Bell, Tom Jackson, Daniel Lavoie and Marie-Denise Pelletier. She has appeared with prominent jazz figures such as Dave Young, Rob McConnell, and Peter Appleyard. She has recorded with various local artists and has recently released her debut recording (entitled Reaching) on the Boat House Records label after winning the Project COOL 2004 jazz competition which awarded her a $15 000 recording grant.
Michelle’s big band compositions have been aired on CBC’s Silence on Jazz, Afterhours, Arts Encounters, Atlantic Airwaves, Jazz Beat, and have been performed and recorded by many ensembles, most recently by the WJO and by the Banff Jazz Orchestra during the Hugh Fraser Jazz Orchestra Residency. In 1998, Michelle received a Manitoba Arts Council Commission and Development Grant to compose a large scale work for the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra which was recently recorded and released on the WJO’s self-titled CD. Her quintet was recorded by “Radio-Canada” for national broadcast on “Silence on Jazz” and her jazz orchestra works were recorded and performed by the WJO as part of a concert featuring Bob Brookmeyer and his music. Her quintet has performed in concerts both in Toronto and in Winnipeg with emerging opportunities across Canada.
An devoted clinician and educator, Michelle directed one of the University of Manitoba Jazz Ensembles and was a featured clinician at the U of M jazz camp. She has been on faculty at CMU as an applied jazz piano teacher, and was on Faculty at the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts teaching private lessons in jazz piano, jazz theory and composition.
A respected contractor and administrator, Michelle is responsible for the creation and production of an exciting new concert series in Winnipeg featuring touring jazz artists (The Canadian Jazz Concerts). She has been a board member for the Winnipeg Jazz Orchestra as well as “Le 100 Nons” (an organization promoting francophone music and industry in Manitoba).