After many fruitful years on the Canadian jazz scene, Fahie followed in the footsteps of scores of jazz musicians and moved to New York City in 2000. He pursued his Master’s Degree at The Manhattan School of Music, where he was the first ever Canadian Fulbright Scholar in the field of jazz. Shortly after finishing his Master’s Degree, Mike was selected as a finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz Trombone Competition.
Fahie’s developing passion for composition led him to create the Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra in 2003, serving as a vehicle to experiment with large ensemble composition, as well as a forum to work with some of the greatest jazz musicians in the city. The MFJO is currently active with both education and performance in New York.
Fahie’s development as a composer and arranger has been highlighted by many commissioned works over the past several years, for both small groups and larger ensembles. He has developed a library of works for high-school level jazz band, as well as small ensemble jazz groups. The United States Military Academy’s Jazz Knights performed and recorded the world debut of his work “The Monster Brooks No Pretense”.
Mike Fahie, an integral part of Darcy James Argue’s “Secret Society”, the Pedro Giraudo Jazz Orchestra, the Paul Carlon Octet, Rob Mosher’s Storytime, and the Gramercy Brass Orchestra, also performs and records with artists such as John McNeil, Maria Schneider, Ingrid Jensen, Donny McCaslin, Jon Cowherd, Loren Stillman, Alan Ferber and many others. Fahie performs every Monday night at the Brooklyn jazz club Puppets and is a regular on Broadway, most recently with “In the Heights” and “Ragtime”.
Mike Fahie has also been very active in the educational field, currently on the faculty of the United Nations International School (since 2002), leading the jazz band and teaching private lessons. He is also on the faculty of the New York Jazz Academy. He has given workshops on improvisation, arranging and composition at several colleges, and he is in demand as a private jazz instructor.
Mike Fahie: Anima
Mike Fahie (trombone), Bill McHenry (tenor saxophone), Ben Monder (guitar), Ben Street (bass), Billy Hart (drums). Produced by John McNeil.
For Mike Fahie, the meaning of Anima, “the animating spirit of life, the ineffable force that characterizes living things”, relates directly to how he feels about his approach to music. He explains, “music, too, has an anima – an undefinable essence that makes it more than the sum of its parts and enables us to communicate at a deep emotional level. Much of the music on this album has a complex, highly-developed structure, yet hopefully it retains that which is most important: the ability to move the listener.” Jung saw the anima process as being one of the sources of creativity. That take on the word certainly plays out on this recording.
Anima features, as Art Blakey used to say, no one in particular. This amazing band shines together from beginning to end, with playing that is so intertwined and beautifully meshed that it would be difficult to imagine one compelling part without the others. Fahie has six originals featured on Anima, with three tunes from three other composers, William Greene – “Village Greene” (“reminiscent of John Coltrane’s music, invites a high-energy approach that allowed Billy Hart to bring the full power of his playing to the recording”), Paul Simon – “Cecilia” (“a great, singable melody that gets stuck in your head. I’ve contrasted its powerful simplicity with a chromatic counter line”), and Monk – “Work” (“a great, lesser-known tune by Thelonious Monk. Like many of Monk’s tunes, the rhythm of the melody is unmistakably his language and invites a different approach to improvising”).
However, it’s Fahie’s tune, “June With John”, that best characterizes the idea behind the album. The trombonist explains, “this is a highly complex structure that still sounds simple. The melody subtracts one note per measure from eight to zero, then adds them again. Additionally, the entire melody is a palindrome.” Other highlights on Anima, include the opening tune, “The Journey”, showcasing Fahie’s vivid tone and his great ability to convey emotion through the bell of his horn; “An Axe To Grind” which offers the musicians an open harmonic playing field on which to romp on; “Democracy”, on which “every player’s role is equal and there is no predetermined form. The surprise climax was unrehearsed and is one of my favorite moments on the album”; and last on the album, but certainly not least, “Seven Sisters”, which is worth the price of admission on it’s own.