michael pagán

jazz pianist composer arranger educator conductor

Michael Pagán Keyboard

Michael Pagan recording

Michael Pagán was born in Ravenna, Ohio. He was raised in a musical family and received his first piano instruction from his parents. He remembers hearing recordings of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Miles Davis, as well as Beethoven, when he was seven. At Kent State University he earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education with an emphasis in piano and choral music and a Master of Arts in composition, where his teachers were James Waters, Thomas Janson, and Frank Wiley. He was a music theory student of Hugh A. Glauser, after whom the schoolis now named. Mike played piano in the new music ensemble under the direction of Frank Wiley and the jazz ensemble under the direction of Chas Baker. His piano teachers included Toni Glauser, Lois Rova Ozanich, Robert Palmieri, and Olga Kuehl-White of the University of Akron. The piano playing and compositions of the late Pat Pace were also an influence. During those years Mike played jazz piano and bass in the Cleveland/Akron area. He also played bass in the Kent State University Orchestra. He received his Doctor of Music degree in composition from Northwestern University, where his principle composition teachers were Lynden DeYoung, Alan Stout, and Steven Syverud. He played piano in the NU jazz and contemporary music ensembles, both directed by Don Owens and continued piano study with Laurence Davis. While in Chicago he was named a “musician deserving wider recognition” by Downbeat magazine. As a jazz pianist he has performed for 40 years (since 1978) throughout the United States and in Europe with many jazz greats. He has performed as a soloist with ensembles including the Ashland (OH) Symphony Orchestra, the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, the Northshore Concert Band, the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra of Denver and a number of university jazz ensembles; he has also played aboard the legendary Delta Queen on the Mississippi River. More recent engagements include an on-going Tuesday night gig at Cafe Trio in Kansas City, where he has played solo piano for 8 years, a regular gig with bassist Steve Rigazzi in the duo Pagarazzi and a number of freelance appearances. In January 2017 he performed with the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra.

Mike has produced an extensive list of compositions and arrangements, over 150 works, mostly in the jazz idiom. He has received numerous awards for work in this area, including First Prize, New Music for Young Ensembles International Composers Competition which included a Carnegie Hall premiere. He has received commissions from the American Jazz Museum, the Michigan Music Teachers Association, the Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, WLS-TV Channel 7, Chicago and high schools and colleges throughout the country. His big band CD Pag’s Groove received airplay and critical acclaim throughout the United States and in Europe, earning a 5-star review in the Irish Times of Dublin. His CD Three for the Ages garnered glowing reviews and was played across the United States on NPR. His 12 Preludes and Fugues for saxophone quartet also received outstanding reviews (click on e-press kit).

Pagán is currently associate professor and chair of the music department at Ottawa University in Ottawa, KS, where he directs Bravo, the Ottawa University Jazz Singers and teaches applied piano, applied jazz piano, music theory, jazz composition, and arranging. Dr. Pagán has also served as Director of Marketing and Communications at the American Jazz Museum in Kansas City, Director of Music at Unity Village Chapel and Blue Ridge Presbyterian Church,and Assistant Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Missouri Kansas City Conservatory. He has also been on the jazz faculties at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Minnesota, Duluth. Michael Pagán has led a distinguished career as a jazz ensemble conductor and clinician. Under his directorship the UMKC Conservatory Concert Jazz Band was selected for performance at a Missouri Music Educators Association conference (2009). He has directed district honor jazz ensembles in Missouri and Kansas and has directed the Colorado All-State small-school jazz ensemble. From 2007-09 he served as Vice President of the Missouri Association for Jazz Education. He also directed the Colorado Jazz Workshop Monday Night Band for 5 years and led the University of Colorado at Boulder Jazz Ensemble I at an IAJE Conference. Pagán writes big band music and frequently appears as an adjudicator/clinician at jazz festivals throughout the region. In 2014 he reassembled the Michael Pagán Big Band, comprised of the finest musicians in the region, which performs to enthusiastic audiences in Kansas City. Mike has been a contributing author to the Kansas City-based Jazz Ambassadors (JAM) Magazine and plays the bass as a secondary instrument.

A partial list of people Michael Pagán has performed with:

Greg Abate


Alex Abramovitz


Craig Aiken
James Albright


Caleb Aldridge
Danny Angotti


Jack D'Amico
Erik Applegate
Fred Atwood
Tom Ball
Bijoux Barbosa
Gene Bass 
Queen Bay 
Charla Bevan
Ron Bland
Marty Block
Bob Bowman
Chuck Braman
Randy Brecker
Michael Brothers
Karen Burlingame
Chris Burnett
Gary Burton
Ron Carlson
Greg Carroll 
Teresa Carroll 
Joe Cartwright
Laura Chalk


David Chael
Walt Chambers
Rich Chiaraluce
Clare Church 
Tyrone Clark
John Clayton


Montez Coleman


Eddie Collins
Anthony Cox
Chris Crisanti 
Ron D’Ascenz 
Jimmy Damon 
Ray DeMarchi
Gerald Dunn
Peter Dominguez 
Millie Edwards 
Danny Embrey


Robin Eubanks 
David Evans
John Fedchock

Ed Fedewa

Rod Fleeman 
Eboni Fondren
Camilla Formica 
Bob Fraser
Mark Frazier
Tom Garling 
Scott Garlock
Toni Gates
Randal Gelispie 
Greg Gisbert 
Brad Goode 
Dave Hagedorn 
Slide Hampton 
Greg Harris
Billy Hart 
Rusty Higgins 
John Hines
Milt Hinton 
Rick Holland 
Bill Hones 
Al Hood
Matt Hopper
Steve Houghton 
Rick Huyett
Javon Jackson 
Elisa James
Rusty Jones 
Bob Kase 
Joel Kaye
Grace Kelly 
Stan Kessler 
Roy King
Randy Knific
Tom Knific 
Darren Kramer 

Bill Larson 
Stephanie Laws
Mike Lee
Randy Lee 
Seth Lee
Pete Lewis

Steve Lippia

Jim Mair

Keith Mallory
Paul Marchetti
Mike Marlier
Will Matthews
Eric McGregor 
Paul McKee 
Ken Morgan 
Dave Morgan 
Tom Myer 
Don Neal 
Lennie Niehaus 
Chalice O'Neal
Peter Olstad
Matt Otto
Keith Oxman
Louie Pagan

Russ Peterson

Frank Potenza
Anne Pringle 
Victor Protodyakonov 
Garner Pruitt 
Martha Raye
Todd Reid 
Steve Rigazzi
Abel Ramirez
Dave Rohlf  
Jim Roller 
Paul Romaine
Wallace Roney 

Bill Roth 

Tommy Ruskin
Glenn Schaft 
Erroll Schlabach 
Dave Schmalenberger
Larry Skinner 
Bukeka Shoals
Claudio Slon 
Kevin Smith 
Lew Soloff 
Michael Spadaro 
Gerald Spaits 
Marvin Stamm 
Michael Staron 
Brian Steever

Hans Sturm 
DJ Sweeney
Bryan Thomas
Frank Tiberi 
Bobby Trujillo
Jimmy Trujillo 
Lori Tucker
Phil Urso 
Roy Valenti 
Louis Varro 
Steve Vecchi 
Ken Walker 
Doug Walter 
Skip Ward
Michael Warren

Bobby Watson
Kenny Wheeler 
Arthur White
Jiggs Whiggham 
Bram Wijnands
Roger Wilder
Teri Wilder 
Todd Wilkinson

Newman Williams 
Shirley Witherspoon