Jazz guitarist Michael Powers is a New York City-born, San Francisco-raised musician who calls Seattle home these days.
Powers, who performs Dec. 19 in Kennewick, first picked up a guitar at age 15 as therapy after injuring his wrist in a skateboarding accident, he says on his website.
He graduated from high school before he turned 16. He moved to Seattle when he was 17, where he started hanging out at local jam sessions soaking up the experience and honing his talent.
"I learned how to play by sitting in at as many places as I could, developing eclectic tastes by playing with all types of bands: jazz, rock, blues, R&B and Top 40," he says. "I wanted to learn how to play any kind of music that featured a guitar as a solo voice."
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Seattle is also where he earned his degree in composition and performance in 1982 at the renowned Cornish College of the Arts, where he was a magna cum laude grad.
He has performed or recorded with Herbie Hancock, Nancy Wilson, Keiko Matsui, George Benson, the late Ray Charles, Diane Schurr, Gladys Knight, Ernie Watts and Tuck & Patti.
The Tacoma News Tribune describes Powers' credentials as "impeccable," which caught the attention of the legendary George Benson Quartet in 2001, when Powers was invited to join his European tour.
"That was out of the blue," Powers told the News Tribune. "It was sort of like I was filling George Benson's chair, and it was really exciting. We played all over, including Ronnie Scott's club in London. That's like a world Mecca for jazz. Stevie Winwood came and played with us. Liza Minnelli sang with us. It was great."
Though jazz is at the heart of what Powers plays, he says his style is more eclectic.
"It's hard to categorize my music, although it usually ends up in the jazz record bins," he says on his website. "If I had to put a label on it, I would call it contemporary instrumental music. It's a sound rooted in the jazz tradition that keeps pace stylistically with pop, R&B and blues -- blues being at the core of my inspiration."
Powers' Tri-City show starts at 8 p.m. Dec. 19 at The Roxy Wine Bar, 101 W. Kennewick Ave., Suite 201, in downtown Kennewick. Tickets cost $10.75 for general admission or $15 for reserved seats. The show is open to those 21 and older.
-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @dorioneal