Philly pianist set to release his third album in the pandemic

Temple University exchange program alum incorporates identity and emotion into his albums

Micah Graves

Micah Graves, native Philadelphian and pianist, is set to release his third album since the start of the pandemic. Although the pandemic kept us in our homes, Graves was busy writing music for his albums. In 2020, Graves recorded his debut album “Med Nama,” quickly followed by “In My Fairytale,” in the studios at Rittenhouse Soundworks. To top it off, he is currently working on his third album, “Pawns” which is set to release this fall in September.

Graves started piano at the age of thirteen, but developed a love for jazz two years later. Graves  spent his time taking jazz piano lessons and playing with various ensembles at Settlement Music School, The Kimmel Center, and The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz. Once he graduated from high school, he stayed in Philadelphia and studied at Temple University while taking full advantage of their study abroad program, which allowed him to spend six months at the Amsterdam Conservatory where he wrote over 20 compositions. 

Graves was inspired to create this album after his musical influences. From an early age, he listened to “Weather report,” “The Yellow jackets,” and artists such as Jaco Pastorius, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock. He says that one of his biggest influences is Jeff Lorber. “Jeff Lorber was really the first person that introduced me to Jazz. He was first the person I could listen to, mimic, and understand. A lot of his sound is ingrained in my sound — to his phrasings, his feel, even down to the same keyboard he uses at live performances “Yamaha S 90es.” Another inspiration of his is Philadelphia saxophonist, Dick Oatts, who appears on one of the tracks on this album. 

After spending time abroad with Temple university’s exchange program, Graves wrote a lot of music in Amsterdam. “It was truly an amazing experience. If I wrote a song, that song would turn into an idea for the next tune I wrote and so on. I experimented a lot with time signatures, but I would try to write them in such a way that still felt good and contributed to the story of the song.” He incorporated a lot of his own identity into each song on the record. Graves’ passion for music is truly transparent when listening to his work. 

Graves has a hard time categorizing his music into just one box. He was raised in the church and has aspects of Gospel music in his playing, but he also has a love for folk, country, and bluegrass music. “It’s really hard to put this into a box because there might be a song that crosses a genre of music that another one doesn’t. That is one reason I branded this collection of music “Not for The Ordinary,” because I think this music at its essence is just me: how I feel, how I feel in a moment, if I’m sad, if I am happy, if I’m in love, if I am going through a break up; the thing that I love about this project is that I can write about the same concept, but due to the variety of styles ingrained in this, it will sound like a whole other song.” 

Micah has big plans for 2022, as he anticipates recording two additional albums of his, “Tell Me Moon” and “Crossroads.” He also plans to return to the Amsterdam Conservatory to pursue his masters degree in composition. Be sure to check out Micah Graves on all streaming platforms, and follow his instagram, @micahgravesmusic for more!