Michael Bates “serves up melodic modernism and contrapuntal elegance” ("Time Out, New York"). For a decade, he has been performing cutting edge music and his recordings showcase a charismatic player who "manages to navigate that most difficult and rarely traveled road leading to accessible experimentation….always forward–thinking but also beautiful and within the grasp of even the most casual jazz fan. (Chris Watson, “The View”). As both a bassist and composer, he draws from the jazz tradition and other influences including classical, world and rock and blends them into a compellingly lyrical, visceral and cinematic style.
His debut cd “Outside Sources” was called one of the best albums of 2004 by Cadence Magazine. “A Fine Balance” (2006) was also exceptionally received and garnered several “best of 2006? designations. The same can be said of “Clockwise” (2008) and “Live in New York (2009)” available on trumpeter Dave Douglas’ label Greenleaf Music. They were released to critical acclaim and Michael has since been featured in Downbeat, Jazztimes, Jazzman, Double Bassist and Jazz Podium among others.
His latest release on Sunnyside Records, "Acrobat: Music for, and by, Dmitri Shostakovich" showcases a brand new quintet with Chris Speed, Russ Johnson, Russ Lossing and Tom Rainey and is clearly Bates' most important release to date. It features the band filtering pieces by one of the great Russian composers though a fender rhodes driven band and 7 other compositions written by Michael in tribute to one of his musical heroes.
He grew up in Vancouver, Canada and even though he was exposed to musicians such as Sun Ra, Thomas Chapin, the Clusone Trio and Dave Holland, Michael began playing music in hardcore and punk rock bands before turning to jazz and classical music. He studied with the principal bassist of the Tokyo Symphony, Yoshio Nagashima, Don Thompson, Dave Young, Mark Helias and Tony Falanga. In 2002, he moved to New York where he began performing with many of the cities' best including Michael Blake, JD Allen, Tom Rainey, Chris Speed, Jeff Davis, Donny McCaslin, Russ Johnson, Dave Douglas, Michael Sarin, Gerald Cleaver, Russ Lossing and Marty Ehrlich. Michael has toured all over Europe, Asia, the United States and Canada and as an educator, he has taught at the Banff Centre of the Arts and several universities worldwide.