mike casey

saxophonist, songwriter, teaching artist

Young virtuosos are not always proof that the future of music is in good hands. Their yammering, often faster than the speed of light to inform us that they have “heard” Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson or Errol Garner; Bird, ‘Trane or Sonny Rollins and taken them to heart. But as the Great Bard once said, “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player/that struts and frets his hour upon the stage/and then is heard no more. It is a tale/told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/signifying nothing. There are indeed exceptions – albeit few and far between – and it is these musicians who give hope to the future of music. Happily Mike Casey is one of these musicians. He seems not to brandish his tenor saxophone as a weapon of war, but rather he makes music out of great gulps of air, which are delivered through its reed, softened by the song. And he always makes you want to listen.
— Raul da Gama, Jazz da Gama (Canada)

A lifetime passion for the saxophone began when Mike took to the saxophone like a fish to water in the 5th grade.  Eager to expand his musical horizons, he attended the Greater Hartford Academy for the Performing Arts in high school, where he studied in its sought-after jazz program, which trained notable alumni such as Jimmy Greene, Josh Evans, The Curtis Brothers, and members of West End Blend & The McLovins.

He's been a fixture on the jazz scene since he began attending the renowned Jackie McLean Institute of Jazz at the Hartt School of Music (University of Hartford) in 2011, where he studied with renowned jazz artists such as saxophonists Abraham Burton, Rene McLean, & Javon Jackson, trombonist Steve Davis, and bassist Nat Reeves. Shortly before graduating in 2015, Casey was one of 24 selected worldwide to participate in the prestigious Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, where he studied with an all-star faculty including Eric Harland, JD Allen, Eric Revis, Cyrus Chestnut, and Jason Moran.

His resume includes Charles Tolliver, DJ Logic, Nat Reeves, Benito Gonzalez, Brandee Younger, Zaccai Curtis, Tarus Mateen, Duane Eubanks, and Marc Cary, whose project “The Harlem Sessions” features Casey as an original member. Through his apprenticeship with Cary, he has performed at NYC’s Winter Jazz Fest, Lincoln Center, Summerstage, Ginny’s Supper Club, and Cape May’s Exit Zero Jazz Festival. After selling out his NYC debut as a leader at the legendary Minton’s in September 2016, Casey went on to accomplish an incredible feat: his PledgeMusic crowdfunding campaign for “The Sound of Surprise” reached 124% funded and was covered by leading music industry blogs such as Hypebot & CDBaby. "The Sound of Surprise” was recorded in early 2016 at the Side Door in Old Lyme, Connecticut, which Downbeat Magazine calls 'one of the best jazz clubs worldwide'.

Released February 7th, 2017, the album has already garnered international airplay, press, and sales in 10+ countries, alongside an initial 14 city album release tour that hit (and sold out) some of the top jazz venues in the Northeast. In conjunction with the album release, Mike was afforded the opportunity to curate an exclusive playlist for JAY Z's TIDAL music service highlighting his peers in modern jazz (30 under 30) and featured in TIDAL RISING editorial. The album & story was also featured heavily throughout CT (Connecticut Magazine & Hartford Courant covered his sold out Hartford album release show, while the New Haven Register/The Day covered his sold out album release show at The Side Door), nationally (Live For Live Music twice) & internationally in notable blogs/magazines Jazz in Europe, Argonauta (Italy), Jazz da Gama (Canada) and more. His trio's format is inspired by jazz icon Sonny Rollins, the pioneer of the chordless saxophone trio. Rollins's trio work has been incredibly influential to Casey, which is evidenced in this 2014 video featuring Rollins and Casey in conversation.

Not one to rest on his laurels, the album campaign currently pushes forward with a 12 city spring/summer 2017 tour and notable press from Live For Live Music (Premiere), NPR, Jazz Night in America and WBGO celebrating the Star Wars Day music video release of his Star Wars inspired composition, 'Dagobah'.

Mike has enchanted audiences young & old alike, performing a unique blend of upbeat, accessible, original music and exciting arrangements of jazz standards with a mature lyricism and a sound that commands the attention of the audience. He is also an experienced teaching artist and enjoys working with youth of all ages and skill levels.