Michael Fair Biography

Image: www.shannonfontaine.com

Image: www.shannonfontaine.com

Over the last 30 years, flugelhorn and trumpet artist Michael Fair has placed himself prominently into the competitive smooth jazz market. Michael has carved a unique niche for himself musically here in the Middle Tennessee area for a couple of reasons. Performing and recording smooth jazz in a city primarily known for country and contemporary Christian music makes him a bit unique, and being notorious for playing the flugelhorn and trumpet make him a Nashville anomaly.

Michael’s partnership with the trumpet began early in his life. At the age of 12 he was given his first horn. It was no time at all until he began playing the songs that he heard his parents listening to by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Michael's early performances included solo features in school bands. He studied trumpet performance at Middle Tennessee State University and graduated in 1979 with a Bachelors of Music. Early post college gigs included the typical frat band circuit, club gigs and casuals. Michael moved to Southern California in 1985 and actually did not touch the trumpet or flugelhorn for two years while pursuing other interests. A move back to Nashville in 1987 seemed as natural as picking the horn back up and joining up with a new band, The Cliff Notes, at the time. Working with this group gave Michael exposure to the Nashville music community, opening up opportunities for both live and session work.


“It seemed to be an oddity to be a musician and to actually have grown up in Nashville. The first question anyone would ask me is ‘Where are you from’? When I would tell them I was actually from here the response was always the same. No one who plays music is actually from here! As a result of that reaction, I’ve always felt as though that helped to make me somewhat unique even though I know there are a handful of native Nashville musicians.”
— Michael Fair

Michael has shared the stage on shows with such legends as Michael McDonald, Christopher Cross, Larry Carlton, Olivia Newton-John, Leon Russell, Gary Puckett, Gregg Allman, John Hiatt, Sam Moore, Carman, Claude McKnight, Victor Wooten, Kirk Whalum, and Jim Horn just to name a few. Michael Fair’s music has been heard throughout Nashville. He was featured on a cut with Kirk Whalum on the Kloud 9 release “Yearning 2 Love”, showcased in the Southeast as the solo horn in the Latin Jazz ballet, “Arriving in Indigo City” and has performed on various CDs and movie soundtracks.

Aspiring to cultivate his own signature style, Michael teamed up with writer Brandon Barnes who has been the recipient of numerous songwriting awards, namely multi-Grammy nominations, the Soul Train Award, BMI Pop Song Award, American Music Award, MTV Music Award, Image Award, Blockbuster Award, and an ASCAP Award. Michael met Brandon Barnes in 1995 while Brandon was in Nashville working with Claude McKnight from Take 6 and right after Brandon completed his work with Brian McKnight on his first CD titled “Brian McKnight”. Brandon was a fan of the flugelhorn and loved Michael's sound when he heard him playing at a Nashville club. The two "hit it off" and talked about doing a smooth jazz horn project for years. Finally schedules lined up and together the two have written and produced three smooth jazz projects, the debut CD, “Love Me Like That” in the summer of 2001, their sophomore offering “How Close Are We” released in the fall of 2003 and their 2006 release,” Back for More”.

Grammy nominated writer/producer Brandon Barnes once again blends his talent with smooth jazz Flugelhorn artist Michael Fair to produce their fourth project together titled "Funk In The Trunk." This CD, released in the Fall of 2010, features a wide variety of music with hard driving funk tunes like the title cut "Funk In The Trunk" to beautiful haunting ballads like "Tell Me Why" and "Smiles From Heaven." "Danza Del Verano" has an infectious upbeat Latin groove and "Good To Be With You" has a contemporary pop vibe guaranteed to instantly brighten the listener's mood. This CD also covers the Jimmy Webb classic "Wichita Lineman" which has to be one of the most beautiful melodies ever written. You'll hear superb production with passionate attention to detail on every track of this, the latest offering by the writing and recording team of Michael Fair and Brandon Barnes. This is a CD with something for everyone. As the title implies, it's a fun collection that we know will put a smile on your face and most of all it will put some "Funk In Your Trunk."All four projects accentuate Michael’s trademark warm sound and sensitive phrasing.

It was easy and natural to do these tunes with Brandon. We really like one another and respect each other’s talents and as a result the songs seemed to just flow and write themselves. I feel fortunate to work with someone as accomplished and successful as Brandon.”
— Michael Fair

Brandon Barnes has co-written some of Brian McKnight's biggest hits including Anytime, The Way Love Goes, Goodbye My Love, One Last Cry, Never Felt This Way, Last Dance, 6 8 12, What's It Gonna Be, “Win” (From Men Of Honor) and Still just to name a few. Brandon has also collaborated with Boyz 2 Men, BeBe and Ce Ce Winans, Phil Collins, Steven Bishop, Earth, Wind and Fire, Alicia Keys, Brenda Russell, Siedah Garrett, Darius Rucker, Tyrese, Robby Nevill, Denise Rich, Justin Timberlake, and the late Art Porter.

Thanks to Michael’s devoted listeners and his new aficionados, his CDs have enjoyed much success locally as well as nationally and internationally. You can hear Michael perform locally at Rudy's and Sambuca and other venues being the featured artist with groups from the Nashville area.

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Many of the musicians Michael has worked with over the years say that they can recognize his sound anywhere. The combination of his sound and sensitive phrasing make him a natural to perform smooth jazz in a way that invites you to listen and be totally enveloped equally by the melody andthe warm flugelhorn sound. Michael's distinctive smooth jazz sounds can be heard regularly at premiere jazz clubs in Nashville, performing everything from jazz standards and R & B favorites to original songs from his CDs.

In 2018 Michael and Brandon decided to cover some popular 80s pop songs featuring the flugelhorn. Here are a couple of those examples, Chicago's Call on Me, Boz Scaggs Jo Jo,  Earth Wind & Fire's  September, and  Michael Jackson's PYT .

Image: www.shannonfontaine.com

Image: www.shannonfontaine.com

In 2018, Michael Fair and Brandon Barnes collaborated on four Christmas classics putting their smooth jazz spin on favorites such as O Holy Night and The Christmas Song.