Michael Stephans currently leads a group with Dave Liebman (and sometimes Greg Osby), Marc Copland, and Drew Gress, called Quartette Oblique, and has been a long standing member of the Bennie Maupin Ensemble. He has also has performed and recorded with a super group called The Kaleidoscope Quintet, featuring Liebman, Joe Lovano, bassist Tony Marino, and singer Judi Silvano. He is also plays occasionally in a trio led by pianist Alan Broadbent.
Michael has performed and/or recorded with a wide array of jazz artists, including Bob Brookmeyer, Bennie Maupin, Dave Liebman, Joe Lovano, Greg Osby, Pharoah Sanders, Marc Copland, Drew Gress, Dave Stryker, Jim Ridl, Steve Varner, Zach Brock, Uri Caine, Marty Ehrlich, Charlie Byrd, Francois Moutin, Vic Juris, Tim Hagans, Clay Jenkins, Don Menza, Bob Sheppard, Theo Saunders, Chris Symer, Henry Robinett, Joe Gilman, Larry Koonse, Putter Smith, Phil Ranelin, Buddy Colette, Alan Broadbent, Bob Florence, Lynn Arriale, Bud Shank, John Patitucci, Karl Berger, and many others. He has also played with personalities as wildly diverse as The Rolling Stones, Cher, David Bowie, Shirley MacLaine, and Natalie Cole, to name a few.
Michael leads three distinct but interrelated lives. As a college professor, he holds a Ph.D. in education, and two Master’s degrees, in English and education respectively. He has taught at three prominent universities and is currently Faculty Emeritus at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
He has authored two books about jazz: “Experiencing Jazz: A Listener’s Companion,” and “Experiencing Ornette Coleman: A Listener’s Companion” – Both for Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; and is currently writing a third book, this one about Bob Brookmeyer, tentatively titled “On the Way to the Sky: Remembering Bob Brookmeyer.”
He has also been active as an award-winning poet and jazz journalist, often writing liner notes and promotional material for such luminaries as Bennie Maupin, Bob Brookmeyer, Darek Oles, and Bob Florence. His work has been published in many literary journals, and he has authored three books of poetry and fiction,
In addition to his performance activities, Michael was awarded composition grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Percussive Arts Society. The former afforded him the opportunity to write a large ensemble piece called “Shapes and Visions” for the vibraphonist Karl Berger, which was performed at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.; and the latter gave him the opportunity to compose a solo work for drum set called “Downside-Up,” which has been performed frequently at regional and national competitions, recitals, and festivals.