Desert Island Jazz
Michael O'Neill (2013)

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Saxophonist Michael O'Neill has lived and worked in the Bay Area for decades.

Growing up in San Diego, Michael started out at an early age playing clarinet, and one of his first influences was his neighbor, the drummer and saxophonist John Guerin, who helped him get his first band together in junior high school.

Following a stint in the Air Force Band, Michael entered college as a biology major with a minor in music. After college, he began a career in biology, and then went on to graduate school—Texas A&M—to work on a Ph.D. in insect physiology.

But when the jazz bug kept biting him, Michael started playing more and more, and the real bugs had to take a back seat. Returning to the Bay Area, he took lessons from tenor great Joe Henderson. He played in dance bands, and Salsa bands, and probably every casual he could get.

In the 1980s, Michael started writing music for corporate and industrial films, which led to TV and documentary film scoring.

Michael has been playing with one of the Bay Area's favorite discoveries, vocalist Kenny Washington, and another recording—their third, this time featuring pianist Geoffrey Keezer—has been recorded and is in production.
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Dexter Gordon Go! Love for Sale Blue Note
# 2 Michael Brecker Two Blocks from the Edge Two Blocks from the Edge Impulse
# 3 Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins The Duke Meets Coleman Hawkins Limbo Jazz Impulse
# 4 Joe Henderson Joe Henderson Big Band Black Narcissus Verve
# 5 Ray Charles Standards Georgia on My Mind Rhino
# 6 Gerry Mulligan and Ben Webster Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster Tell Me When Verve
# 7 John Coltrane A Love Supreme Resolution Impulse
Book Charles Darwin, "On the Origin of Species"
Luxury Item "The key to the unparallel universe ... where planet Earth has a stable human population of about four billion, there's social and economic parity, clean water and clean air--they trump profit-making"
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