about Michael Vlatkovich

Photo by Bob Pyle

Michael Vlatkovich, trombonist, composer, and arranger, is one of the leading talents among Los Angeles improvisational players. Located on the West Coast since 1973, he is an emotionally charged performer, comfortable in a variety of jazz and world music styles. Vlatkovich has performed extensively in the United States, Canada, and Europe. His improvisionally free music expresses raw power and beauty in a minimally structured format.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Vlatkovich began studying music with the school band in the third grade. He distinguished himself in high school and was awarded a music scholarship to attend the St. Louis Institute of Music. Prior to his education at the Institute, Michael took part in an intensive six week workshop with internationally acclaimed saxophonist Oliver Nelson and guest soloists, Thad Jones, Mel Lewis, Roland Hanna, Ron Carter, and Phil Woods. Among his fellow students were Hamiett Bluett, Joe Bowie, Julius Hemphill, and Oliver Lake.

In addition to leading his own diverse imaginative ensembles, Vlatkovich has performed with a wide array of singers and instrumentalists including Peggy Lee, Brian Setzer, Bryan Adams, Bobby Bradford, Gerry Hemingway, Rob Blakeslee, Rich Halley, among many others. The trombonist has also performed on sound tracks for a variety of television and film projects including The Mask, Jingle All The Way, and the critically acclaimed John Cassavette’s film The Tempest.

In 1981, the composer formed Thankyou Records in order to document the truly unique forward thinking musical concepts and ideas of both himself and his music collaborators. (These recordings have received critical acclaim in music publications and periodicals throughout the United States and Europe. Many of them have been selected for the lists of ten best jazz recordings.

Most recently the trombonist has been performing with his own ensembles, and co-leading Transvalue with poet Charles Britt. Vlatkovich is also a regular member with the Vinny Golia Large Ensemble and Rob Blakeslee Quartet.

Following some projects und additional biographical information on Michael Pierre Vlatkovich projects and group-members.


Dorothea Grossman and Michael Vlatkovich present poetry and creative new music in a unique “call and response” format. The late Allen Ginsberg called Dorothea (Dottie) Grossman’s poetry, “clear, odd, personal, funny or wild-weird, curious and lucid.” The award-winning poet lives, works and writes in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in Blue Unicorn, Southern Poetry Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Gypsy Anthology, Poetry Motel, Zuzu,s Petal Quarterly, The Poet,s Band Company, Raw Dog Press, Pearl, The California Quarterly of the California State Poetry Society, The IMP Irregular, ArtLife and Rhino. Her book, “Cuttings: Selected Poetry 1978 -1988″ was published by Tango Press in 1996. “Poems From Cave 17” was published in 1996, and “Museum of Rain” was published by Take Out Publications in 2001.

Michael Vlatkovich, trombonist, composer and arranger, maintains dual citizenship in Los Angeles, CA and Portland, OR, and also tours extensively in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In addition to leading his own creative ensembles, Vlatkovich has performed and recorded with a variety of singers and instrumentalists, including Peggy Lee, Brian Setzer, ROVA Saxophone Quartet, Bryan Adams, Bobby Bradford, Gerry Hemingway, and Rob Blakeslee.

The magazine, “JAZZIZ” has called Vlatkovich, “…one of the most extraordinary improvising trombonists in this country as well as overseas. Also a gifted composer and arranger, Vlatkovich is one of the leading talents among Los Angeles improvisational players. Working from the Left Coast since 1973, he is well known for tireless touring, bringing his music all over the United States, Canada, and Europe. A daring and emotionally charged performer, Vlatkovich takes delight in blending a broad variety of jazz and world music styles into his own brand of engaging and unpredictable music. His approach manages to express a raw power and beauty within a minimally structured format that allows extensive group improvisations to lead the way.”

The “call and response” format in which Ms. Grossman and Vlatkovich perform was born about two years ago in Albuquerque, NM, when both were guests on a jazz radio program. This format solves the problem of one medium overshadowing the other, plus, says Grossman, ” it avoids the old jazz and poetry, trap, with its cliché-ridden stereotype of angry, beret-wearing, bongo-playing bohemians.”

Recent appearances have included The Potter Valley Penofin Jazz Festival, Ukiah, CA; KUNM Radio,s “House That Jazz Built,Albuquerque, NM; PTS Group, Redondo Beach, CA; ArtLife Poetry Series, Ventura, CA; Open Gate Theatre, Eagle Rock, CA ; Salvation Theatre, Los Angeles; Club Tropicale, Culver City, CA; Godot,s Ear, Studio City, CA, Meridian Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

more on Dorothea Grossman’s web page here…

Michael Vlatkovich wearing his Eddie Moore teeshirt in Albuquerque, August 29, 2009 | Photo by Mark Weber

The Michael Pierre Vlatkovich Quartet:

Christopher Garcia – Drumset, Percussion

Chris was born, raised, and still resides in East L.A. (Never to be confused with West L.A.). His background includes performances in a wide variety of musical settings including; Progressive Jazz, Rock, World Music, traditional Mexican music, percussion ensemble, soundtracks, and cartoon music. He attributes his musical growth to his studies with Professor John Bergamo, Pandit Tarnath Rao, Swapan Chadhouri and Leonice Shinemann where he studied tabla, while attending California Institute of the Arts on a full scholarship.

Chris was also a member of the award winning Cal Arts Percussion Ensemble in 1979. He attributes his “style”(?) to Listening to EVERYTHING, logging in thousands of hours, practicing, rehearsing,performing and touring constantly with musicians interested in stretching and reinventing themselves. Chris’ drumming is unusual in that it incorporates not only the standard rhythms and their permutations, but also a fluency with odd time signatures and sonic textures, which he seamlessly incorporates into his playing. He has toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada and Asia. He has consistently held the drummer/percussionist chair in several Vlatkovich ensembles since 1992.

He has also been the drummer/percussionist of several critically acclaimed ensembles including: Continuum – fusion for the 21st Century, Quarteto Nuevo – a world music improvising chamber ensemble, The Michael Vlatkovich Trio, Quartet, Quintet & Sextet – Avant trombonist, The Jihad Racy, Roberto Miranda, Christopher Garcia – world music trio, the World Music Percussion Quartet with Gustavo Aguilar, Park Je Chun, Takinojo Mochizuki, The Grandmothers – Ex Mother Of Invention – Don Preston, Roy Estrada, Bunk Gardner, Napoleon Murphy Brock, and duets with Drummer/percussionist Alex Cline, guitarist Nels Cline and multi woodwinds master Vinny Golia.

more on Christopher Garcia here…

Jonathan Golove – Electric Cello. Jonathan Golove is a native of Los Angeles, California and a resident of Buffalo, New York. He currently serves as Lecturer in the Music Department of the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he received a Ph.D. in musical composition as a Woodburn Fellow. His principal composition teachers have been David Felder and Donald Erb, and he has studied computer music with Cort Lippe. He has worked with or participated in master classes given by composers including Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Philippe Manoury, Lukas Foss, Roger Reynolds, Gerhard Staebler, and Walter Zimmermann. Mr. Golove’s works have been performed in a variety of locations in the North America and Europe, by such ensembles as the Ensemble Court Circuit, the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, Maelstrom Percussion Ensemble, and The Instrumental Factor.

He has received commissions, awards and grants for his works from organizations including the European Academy of Music/International Festival of Lyric Art of Aix-en-Provence, VOXNOVA, ASCAP, the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust for New Music, Meet the Composer, and the Darius Milhaud Society.

He has written for a variety of ensembles, often in combination with live electronic processing, including (Max’s 24 Hours) Pray-O-Mat for two cellos and the IRCAM Signal Processing Workstation, which was performed at the 1996 Sonic Circuits Festival in Toronto. In 1995, Mr. Golove was the first winner of the ASCAP Foundations Leo Kaplan award. His winning composition, Shreds of Evidence, is scored for two pianos, electronically processed spoken text, and video, and was premiered at the North American New Music Festival in February, 1995. A version of Shreds for piano duo was subsequently premiered at the June In Buffalo Festival. Here and There, a work for female voice and percussion quartet, has been recorded by the Maelstrom Percussion Ensemble on its CD release Whirled Music.

Mr. Golove is also an accomplished cellist, having been a student of Siegfried Palm and Ronald Leonard. In 1997 he was featured as soloist in Morton Feldman’s Cello and Orchestra with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and will perform Gubaidulina’s Detto II for cello and ensemble with the Slee Sinfonietta in April 1999. He is active, as well, in the field of improvised music, appearing on a number of recordings with noted composer/performer Vinny Golia.

Mr. Golove has been a founder and co-director of chamber ensembles dedicated to the performance of new music including The Instrumental Factor (Buffalo), Just Like It Sounds (San Francisco), Arc-en-Ciel (Berkeley), and the Three-in-the-Time-of-Two Festival, which had its debut in Cleveland in 1994. He has performed in or composed works for summer music festivals including the Pacific Music Festival, the Rome Festival, and the Sarasota Music Festival. He was a founding member of the Elisha String Quartet, a group which served as the Apprentice Quartet at The Cleveland Institute of Music and participated in the 1993 Julliard Quartet Seminar. In addition, he has performed in the June In Buffalo String Quartet, the Roycroft Festival, and with the Cleveland Octet, a group made up of members of the Cleveland Orchestra.

more on Jonathan Golove here…

David Mott – Baritone Saxophone

David Mott is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and holds the degrees of Master of Music, Master of Musical Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts from the Yale University School of Music, where he also taught graduate composition and directed the Yale Jazz Ensemble. He has been an Associate Professor at York University in Toronto since 1978.

The earliest of his compositions date from 1964, and include chamber works in a style the composer describes as “contemporary western art music”, pieces for both small and large jazz ensembles, and compositions demonstrating his spectacular mastery of his own instrument, the baritone saxophone, either by itself, with electroacoustic elements, or in conjunction with his colleagues in the Toronto-based saxophone quartet, 40 fingers.

Mott maintains an enthusiastic interest in the cultures of Tibet, China, Korea and Japan. Many of his compositions bear evocative titles that reflect an Eastern-inspired concern with nature and its ways, or relate to the explicitly Buddhist approach to music defined in his article, Towards a New Mind/Body Music, first published in the journal Musicworks over the course of four issues from 1982 to 1983. His music is recorded on Music Gallery Editions, Opus One Records, Hamagi Records and Unity Records.

more on David Mott here…

14 Responses to “about Michael Vlatkovich”

  1. (poem for Michael’s new website)

    imagine six trains running
    each with a trombonist
    on board playing a half-diminished chord
    out the window
    while the engineer
    is conversing with Seth
    Octavianus is waving
    green & blue flags
    from the caboose
    and an encampment of
    enlightened hoboes
    at the top of the bend
    cheer them on
    and in the diner car
    sits a seventh trombonist
    enjoying a bowl of corn flakes
    soaked in grape juice
    admiring his new lime-green tennis shoes
    parked on the table across
    from him still in the box
    with black triangles

    –mark weber

  2. michael

    i can
    hear him
    say that
    on his
    & don’t
    tell me
    that vlat
    can’t make
    a trombone
    i’ve heard
    him make
    one sing



    Michael travels all over the U.S. playing wherever and anywhere — January 2007 found him in a little neighborhood pizza joint in Albuquerque playing with Mark Weaver’s Brassum — on one of Michael’s appointed solos he grabbed that banged-up tin pie pan that he carries around and slapped it onto the bell of his horn and started making the most gawd awful sounds ever emanated from a trombone I couldnt help but sneak a peak at the two New Mexico Symphony Orchestra musicians in the audience — a trombonist who’s a fan of Michael’s work, and a French horn player — and both these wonderful girls had horrified but delightful smiles on their faces, as Michael jerked this positively horrid sound (the ants came out of the wall to see what all the racket was) into a solo built like a house, constructed
    of it’s own logic, a logic unto itself, inherent upon only its own laws, knocked together, bent nails, recycled rusty hinges, assembled only to exist for itself, purely honest — a magnificent display —

    Similarly, several years ago at the Bing Theatre at the Los Angeles Museum of Art on Wilshire Blvd next to the LaBrea Tar Pits, a concert 20th year celebration for the existence of 9 Winds Records, a huge large (30 piece?) Vinny Golia ensemble was cooking up a few things, and when it came to Michael’s solo, this huge lumbering band was boiling, and Michael slowly and meticulously, and very deliberately constructed one of the most magnificent jazz solos I’ve ever heard — he’d lay down a phrase or two, then stop to listen (the band had no stage monitors, so he had to stop to hear what was going on, and decide how to proceed) then add another line, then stop and listen, then add another, and as this went on, the members that weren’t playing were all one by one slowly turning toward Michael because everybody knew something was happening, I remember saxophonist Bill Plake staring in awe as Michael built this architectural ediface of complete pure logic and lyricism and grandeur, to this day I get goosebumps remembering it —

    And another time, when he was doing a studio over-dub session for me, at Quincy Studios, we needed him to tidy up a the Bubbadinos “Buttons & Bows” track — we needed an ending (the Bubbadinos had sorta destroyed the ending on the original take) and so, Michael stood at his mic as Quincy readied him for a “punch in” — Michael took one pass, and then said, “No, give it to me again,” hardly with less than ten seconds pause and he nailed it on his second pass with one of the most astonishing moments in Bubbadino history, I LOVE that track, BUT he wasn’t done! In 1949 or was 1950 Dinah Shore had a hit with “Buttons & Bows” (in 1950 Charlie Parker quotes the melody in Sweden!) so Michael adds the television commercial from the 60s “See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet” phrase as a tag, that Dinah made famous. What a guy! *(see Zerx 047)

    mark weber

  4. Hello Michael

    From the first rain-to-snow night this season, in Denver Where we are suddenly all about baseball (???) Your website is beautiful I have to go hold down the roof now. It’s blowing like mad Always
    jeant f. deer

  5. Michael,

    I really enjoy your new website. Good luck!!!

    Bill Payne

  6. Thanks for supporting Michale’s music.
    Since you are interested in Michael you might want to look at the TRANSVALUE web site…

  7. Love your website.. love your middle name! How excellent you are! Albakerkee is too hot for breath this summer.. so come back soon and bring the air with you..

    Dudessa de Albuquerque

  8. You can now check out Michael’s complete THANKYOU RECORDS Catalog at:


    Chuck Britt

  9. Michael, Kirt Peterson here. Hope you’re well. Miss playing Zippy, and others. Call me to play when it’s right. Please.

    thanks in advance

  10. Hans: This is great, but there’s no mention of Rich West, percussionist, who will be playing with us. Mayube that’s my fault — I thought I sent you info. about him. I will find something quick and email it off to you today.

    Dottie Grossman

  11. Michael Vlatkovich?
    you mean Michael PIERRE Vlatkovich!

    yeah, I know him
    did three 10,000 mile tours from Los Angeles to Vermont and Canada and back
    3 different times, 3 consecutive years

    1st time with Bill Plake, and Anders Swanson, myself and MPV
    tenor, bone, bass, cg

    2nd time, same folks add Rob Blakeslee
    tenor, bone, bass, cg and trumpet and flugelhorn

    3rd time – switch Michael Bisio for Anders Swanson and add Vinny Golia to the mix
    VG played Bb clarinet, alto clarinet, bass clarinet

    Anthony Braxton came to see us in Middletown Connecticut
    “Why don’t I know who you are Mr. Vlatkovich??”

    – Braxton

    I have had the privilege of playing Michaels music
    and making music with Michael
    both are, usually, pretty damn enjoyable

    the travel conditions may leave something to be desired but
    that thing that we live and breathe for is full of INTENT and joyful HONESTY

    funny thing about intent and honesty is that
    you can’t practice it
    you can’t buy it
    you can’t FAKE IT

    it either is
    or it ain’t

    with Michael I would say that it is truth = that which always is
    and there is not a lot of truth in this world
    or any to write about anyway

    Michael always gets good reviews

    I have made music with him as
    duo, trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, septet, octet, nonet
    all usually WITHOUT A NET

    and despite trends
    real and/or perceived and/or perpetuated
    the music keeps coming AND growing

    “Youre not going to play that under my solo are you?”

    “Tacet?, I thought it said Take It”

    “You can’t play this on a trombone”

    “Michael should be canonized for doing what he does”








    • This brings back a memory. Mid 1990s I was part of the crowd that kept the legendary Pyralisk art center going in Montpelier Vermont. We booked Mike V and his band, including Chris Garcia, Plake, Swanson. They played a ripping night at the Pyralisk. Local jazz heads had never heard anything like it.

      Next day I invited them up to my place on the mountain. Three feet of fresh snow on the ground. Someone decided that it would be a good idea for these Californians to try snowshoeing. Bill Plake put on a pair and ventured out into the field. Much encouragement from the bleachers. He got cocky and fell over, feet waving in the air. Mike went all Mighty Mouse “I’ll save you!” and put on another pair of snowshoes. Out he went, reached Bill, and down he went. Arms and legs waving in the air, much laughing from the crowd. Finally got untangled, returned to solid ground.

      Somewhere I have a photo of you guys looking over a gigantic snowbank.

      Great gig, great people, great memories.

      • do you have a contact for him

        On Sun, Jan 16, 2022, 12:11 PM Michael Vlatkovich wrote:

        > Hilton Dier III commented: “This brings back a memory. Mid 1990s I was > part of the crowd that kept the legendary Pyralisk art center going in > Montpelier Vermont. We booked Mike V and his band, including Chris Garcia, > Plake, Swanson. They played a ripping night at the Pyralisk. Local” >

  12. http://rotcodzzaj.com/wordpress/?page_id=2544 My review of AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A PRONOUN

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