Michael Kocour on Piano Jazz Pianist and educator Michael Kocour spent years on the Chicago jazz scene, leading his own trio and playing high-profile gigs with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and the Chicago Symphony. Hear the full in-studio performance and interview on Piano Jazz.
NPR logo Michael Kocour on Piano Jazz

Michael Kocour on Piano Jazz

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Set List

  • "Parisian Thoroughfare" (Powell)
  • "Ask Me Now" (Monk)
  • "Indian Summer" (Herbert)
  • "Stranger in a Dream" (McPartland)
  • "My Shining Hour" (Arlen, Mercer)
  • "Winter Spell" (Kocour)
  • "Free Piece" (Kocour, McPartland)
  • "I Should Care" (Cahn, Stordhal, Weston)
Michael Kocour (300)
Courtesy of Michael Kocour

Pianist Michael Kocour was born and raised in the Chicago area. He received his bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois in 1985 and went on to a Master's degree in music theory at Northwestern. From 1991 to '94, he taught jazz and piano pedagogy at the University of Illinois, before returning to Northwestern as a jazz lecturer. At both schools, Kocour gained a reputation as a passionate and innovative teacher for music majors and non-majors alike.

Throughout his teaching career in Chicago, Kocour cultivated a career as an in-demand pianist, working with artists such as James Moody, Benny Golson, Ira Sullivan and Dizzy Gillespie. Kocour also performed around town as a Hammond B3 player, and maintained a regular trio called Monk's Dream with pianist Steve Million and drummer Robert Shy. Kocour's B3 playing was also featured on two recordings led by drummer Joel Spencer.

In 2004, Kocour left his familiar stomping grounds of Chicago to take over as director of Jazz Studies at the Herberger College of Fine Arts at Arizona State University. Within a year, his passion for teaching had been recognized with a Distinguished Teacher Award.

Kocour has also recently released his own recordings as a leader. High Standards, from 2005, features a collection of straight-ahead and tasteful performances by Kocour's trio. His most recent record, this year's Speaking In Tongues, features interpretations of songs by Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.

Originally recorded Feb. 5, 2007.

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