Michael Manson is a talented, school-educated, and experienced musician and music educator. His training is inclusive of intensive work in the Classic, Jazz, Gospel, and R&B genres of music. Also, inclusive of his Christian philosophy and training, giving is a crucial part of his lifestyle. In keeping with this, music as a gift is meant that is meant to serve. Therefore, Michael feels that the gift given to him is to be given back to serve others, specifically his community.
With the release of his previous CD, Thumpin’, Michael Manson joined the ranks of today’s premiere jazz artists.
His first singles, "Outer Drive,” “Sundance,” and “Coming Right At Ya," reached the top 10 on the R&R Smooth Jazz. Bass master Michael Manson moved from sideman to center stage on his solo debut, The Bottom Line.
His passion and precision are displayed with both unrelenting power and laid-back grace on the album that, he says, “reflects the deepest expression of all I have felt making music for the last twenty 25 years.”
On Michael Manson’s new CD "A Ray of Hope" (2021), he is credited for writing and production. For this album, Michael has collected the who's who of Smooth Jazz: Najee, Darren Rhan, Jeff Lorber, Nick Colionne, Lin Roundtree, Paul Jackson Jr., Jeff Lorber, and the legendary George Duke, and many more great jazz musicians. This album is an excellent mix of contemporary jazz, R&B, and even a little gospel.
For Michael Manson, the bottom line has always been great music. Since he first picked up a guitar (not a bass), he has moved persistently from strength to strength, one association leading inevitably to another in a career that has brought him front and center with the most respected names in jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, and pop. Manson's uniquely lyrical voice has its roots in Chicago, Illinois.
Returning to Chicago State University, he joined the Chicago State Gospel Choir, and, in Manson's words, "things started snowballing." One gig or association would lead to another, with Manson playing with one Gospel great after another: Tramaine Hawkins, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Jessy Dixon, and James Cleveland. He even played on the Winan's album All Out, only the first of many times he would perform with childhood musical heroes.
After graduating from Chicago State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, he completed a Master's in Music Performance at Northwestern University. In 1995 Manson met Steve Finkle (now Steve Cole), who was playing with Brian Culbertson. That same year, one of his gospel connections put him together with Kirk Whalum, and he ended up playing on the Dove, and Stellar-Award nominated "The Gospel According To Jazz." Recorded live at the Roy Acuff theatre featured Whalum, George Duke, and Paul Jackson Jr. "That's how I met George Duke in '97," quips Manson.
Manson's association with George Duke ultimately led to the gig of a lifetime. George, the musical director and a featured artist on the Montreux Jazz tour, invited Manson onboard, where he shared the stage with his greatest childhood hero, Al Jarreau, along with David Sanborn, Roberta Flack, and Joe Sample. Manson has shared the stage with Warner Bros. Records artists Larry Carlton, Kirk Whalum, Boney James, Rick Braun, Kenny Garret, George Duke, and Kevin Mahogany. Pal Kirk Whalum said with typical good humor, "After that tour, you could have retired." But Manson is just getting started. Kirk also included him on his "Hymns In The Garden" album, which was nominated for Best Pop Instrumental Album at the Grammys.
In 2010, after years of working with the best in jazz, Manson and his wife Lana opened a nonprofit music school, the Musical Arts Institute. This endeavor has now served thousands of students and currently has 1200 students enrolled. They serve the far south side of Chicago, where students and families do not have access to or resources to afford high-quality music instruction.
For Michael Manson, love of musical communication, exploration, collaboration, and celebration is clearly what it’s all about. This sophomore release reflects Manson’s unabated passion with joy and inspired artistry: "There are intriguing musical conversations, and I hope the audience shares in that. But it is just great for musicians to communicate in that way. That’s the joy of music. To make great music like that every night, that’s what it’s all about.”