“Strong musicianship and spontaneous substantive musical ideas flow effortlessly from Mike’s performances.”
- Pete Ford, Jazz Pianist
“Michael Shirtz is one of the best jazz singers in the country, in a league with Jackie Paris, Mark Murphy, and Roy Kral!"
- Mark Gridley, Jazz Historian
"Michael Shirtz is one of my favorite musicians, both to work with and to watch. As a performer and bandleader, Michael clearly demonstrates a high command of the repertoire of the modern improvising musician, both as a pianist and vocalist. Additionally, Michael has a gift for engaging his audience, not only through his music, but by way of his openness and storytelling during the show. He possesses the ability to draw both his audience and bandmates into a shared experience that transcends the more common "concert" event. I have known Michael for many years, and it is my privilege to call him colleague, bandmate, and friend."
- Doug Neel, Benedetto Guitarist
A performer, producer, composer, and conductor, Michael Shirtz is known for his versatility with jazz, contemporary, and classical music, reaching out to diverse audiences of multi-generations. His interest for traditional music is clearly evident in his work as a conductor and educator, while his passion in contemporary music is his noted forte. His vocal style captures the warmth and lyricism of a Mel Tormé on smooth ballads, and up tunes are distinct with energy, drive, and a hint of gospel and blues. As a pianist, Shirtz has remained deeply influenced by the innovation of Brubeck’s keyboard styles, which are infused into Michael’s groups. Among Shirtz’s greatest attributes are his diverse, instrumental-like scat-singing and cool ease with his audiences. After a concert an audience member commented, “It’s like listening to Mel Tormé meets Brubeck!”
A native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Shirtz began his musical career while in high school fronting small house bands to leading variations of big bands and jazz combos, including the Michael Shirtz Quartet. It wasn’t long before Michael was traveling, producing, and performing popular themed concerts and tribute shows. These unique jazz infused programs have reached out to a diverse audience, creating a unique following that embraces music lovers of all ages to Michael’s music nationally. After a nine-year break to pursue other musical interests, Shirtz returned to performing in 2014 by reestablishing the Michael Shirtz Quartet and expanding his interest in composing and arranging music; from performing traditional jazz styles and moving effortlessly into playing Blues, Funk, Rock, Gospel and Singer/Songwriter material.
Shirtz returned to presenting theme shows by releasing the show, As I’ve Learned It (tribute to the music of his grandfather, big band leader Tommy Weldon) in 2014 and also launched his popular JAZZ @ 8 Series. In 2015 Shirtz released his tribute show, AMERICAN OUR WAY: An American Songbook Story that highlights the music and performers of the 20th Century. Since then, Shirtz has developed several other shows all released this year that include his exploration into faith and spirituality called In Finding Faith and a new tribute with symphony orchestras and the Michael Shirtz Quartet called American Songbook Classics.
Shirtz released his first solo album, "Blue Skies" in February 2018 and plans to follow with additional albums "In Finding Faith" and "Audition: Music of Michael Shirtz" in the coming years.
In addition to his work as a jazz performer and producer, Shirtz continues to pursue other avenues in music as a conductor, composer, and educator. Michael serves as the Senior Vice President of Programming for Lakeside Chautauqua.