Michael Francis began his dedicated professional jazz life at age 16, playing Ragtime and traditional jazz piano at Turn of the Century Melodrama Theater in El Paso, Texas.
Successfully ignoring his parents' advice to “make sure and get a real job,” he has had a long, rewarding career as a band leader - performing, recording and has produced concerts with America’s finest,including Ray Charles, Chick Corea, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Ray Brown and the list goes on...
Michael has recently recorded with Chuck Redd, Houston Person, Holly Hofmann, Little Johnny Rivero and Hillary Smith.
Basically self-taught before earning his Bachelor of Music degree at University of Texas El Paso, Michael loves all “beautiful” music and composes and performs in different styles, including Blues and Boogie Woogie, Ragtime, Stride, Swing, Bossa Nova, Mainstream and Latin.
Owner of a swinging jazz club “Señor Blues” in El Paso in the 80s Michael met and performed with many legendary jazzers such as Herb Ellis, Buddy Tate, Joe Newman, Bill Watrous, Bud Shank, Monty Budwig, Shelley Manne and many more.
Michael’s Blue Heron Records LLC label is dedicated to “Artistic Integrity First” and features recordings by Harry Allen, Chuck Redd, Nicki Parrott and Ehud Asherie.
A founding member of the Roswell, NM Jazz Festival, Michael has been Artistic Director since the festival opened in 2006.