Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Studied classical percussion via a 4-year music scholarship at the University of Miami with Fred Wickstrom, and jazz drumming in New York City with Joe Chambers. Received B.A. in English (1967), M.Ed. in Education (1969), from the University of Miami; Ph.D in Education from the University of Maryland (1976), M.A. in English from California State University (2003). His doctoral dissertation, on the development of jazz as part of the higher education music curriculum, was one of the first of its kind in the country. In 1973, Dr. Stephans received a composition grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and premiered a work for vibraphonist/pianist Karl Berger and a large ensemble at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. In 1976, he relocated to California and was involved in the studio music and entertainment scenes for the next decade, playing with a wide variety of entertainers, from Shirley MacLaine to David Bowie and the Rolling Stones (percussion).
In the mid-80's, Dr. Stephans returned to education and taught English composition & literature at Woodbury University. He was a full-time faculty member at Pasadena City College since 1990, where he has developed, among other things, a popular course called "The Jazz Experience: Evolution & Essence." In 2006, he re-located to the Poconos, just outside of New York City. As a drummer and percussionist, Stephans has performed and/or recorded with a wide variety of jazz artists, including Bob Brookmeyer, Dave Liebman, Bennie Maupin, Pharoah Sanders, Bobby Bradford, Bob Florence, Alan Broadbent, John Pattitucci, Rick Margitza, Ira Sullivan, Clark Terry, Conte Candoli, Don Menza, Ernie Watts, Eddie Harris, Pete Christlieb, Bud Shank, Herb Geller, Frank Rosolino, Bill Watrous, and many others. He is currently a member of small ensembles led by Brookmeyer, Liebman, and Maupin. In February 2007, he premiered his new CD OM/ShalOM, in New York City at the Blue Note with Maupin, Liebman, and bassist Scott Colley. He has appeared recently with Maupin's Ensemble in both Europe and the U.S.
Projected for 2007-08: a duo project with Liebman and a trio project with Brookmeyer.
An award-winning poet and writer, Stephans has authored four books of short stories and poetry. He has been active in jazz journalism as a contributor to a number of related newspapers and magazines, and has written liner notes for other artists such as Bob Brookmeyer, Bennie Maupin, and Bob Florence.
Bob Florence & Sue Raney: Flights of Fancy (1986); Bob Brookmeyer: Oslo (1987); Theo Saunders: Three for All (1996); Dave Ferris: TrioMusic (2002); Don Menza: Live at Charlie O's (2003); Bob Brookmeyer-Michael Stephans: Stay Out of the Sun (2003); Bennie Maupin Ensemble: Penumbra (2006); Don Menza: Menza Lines (2006); Michael Stephans: OM/ShalOM (2007)
(Stories and poetry):
Duets for One (CSUN, 2003)
The Color of Stones (Red Dancefloor, 1997)
Mythematics (Red Dancefloor, 1994)
Bright Size Life (Emmeless, 1991)