Michael Lake - alto trombone

Michael Lake started playing trombone at age 10 just before his family moved to Arizona. Mike grew up in Phoenix and lived in the valley until he left Arizona State as a Jazz Performance/Composition major. It was at ASU that Mike fell in love with alto trombone which he has played exclusively ever since. (Don’t ask him to play tenor – he barely remembers the positions and can’t even hit the partials!!)

He considers himself blessed by having Warren “Jeff” Jefferies at Arcadia High School and Dan Haerle at ASU as his two indispensable early jazz mentors. At ASU, Gail Wilson and fellow Bones Southwest colleague Kevin Hedges gave him a solid technical foundation on trombone.

Michael lived and played professionally in Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York as a studio musician, jazz player and salsa guy in venues from Club Broadway to the Village Gate to Carnegie Hall. In Boston, Michael led a salsa band called Caribbean Express which was nominated for a Best Latin Album Grammy. He still hasn’t gotten over losing to Julio Ingelsias. Following that, he became an in-demand latin trombonist for Frankie Ruiz, Lalo Rodriguez, Ray Barretto and many others.

Michael has written over a dozen books and has produced several online courses on improvisation. Michael’s core belief is that everyone has the ability to improvise authentically as long as they focus less on the scales, chord tones, and memorized patterns, and more on the music they hear inside.

Michael owns a multimedia production studio in Phoenix where he writes and records for CDs, TV and film. You can hear Michael’s very unique multimedia treatment of the alto trombone at www.musicsavvy.com .

The video to the right is an example of the way Michael speaks about improvisation. Produced originally for TicTok, this entertaining three minutes tells a story of the talk Michael would have given to his 19-year old self as he was struggling with improvisation.

Michael performs two short contrasting phrases, one perfectly inside the changes, while the other is pretty far away from the harmony. The lesson is that there are no ‘wrong’ notes as long as you are listening and providing context to your notes.

In the end, the objective is to better connect your musical mind to your instrument. As you develop that connection, good things happen musically.

To learn more, visit his site at musicsavvy.com

The talk about improvisation