Michaël Attias has earned a reputation as one of the most questing and keenly collaborative figures on the 21st-century New York jazz scene, with a background and outlook that makes “him an emphatically cosmopolitan saxophonist and composer," according to The New York Times. Migrations spanning North Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe and the American Midwest ultimately brought Attias in 1994 to New York City, where he continues to pursue his muse as improviser, composer and leader of multiple bands. On alto saxophone, Attias offers a tone of piquant lyricism, while his compositions are serpentine and darkly alluring, with melodies fit to charm snakes; the rhythms offer surprise at every turn, the textures as sensual as night. The Village Voice has described Attias’ music-making this way: “perpetually shifting tunes, richness of timbre and a singular personality – you can almost see his music expanding and contracting."

As a leader, Attias has released seven critically-acclaimed albums since 2005: Credo, Renku, Renku in Coimbra, Twines of Colesion, Spun Tree, Renku Live in Greenwich Village and the 2017 debut of the Michaël Attias Quartet Nerve Dance. As a sideman, he has performed and recorded all over the world alongside some of today's most compelling musicians: Anthony Braxton, Paul Motian, Anthony Coleman, Masabumi Kikuchi, Tony Malaby, Ralph Alessi, Oliver Lake, and many others.

His current projects include his long-standing trio Renku, with John Hébert and Satoshi Takeishi; Spun Tree, with Ralph Alessi, Matt Mitchell, Sean Conly, Tom Rainey; and the Michaël Attias Quartet with Aruàn Ortiz, John Hébert and Nasheet Waits. 

Michaël Attias has also established himself as creator of live musical scores and sound designs for theatre including, since 2008, five collaborations with legendary director Robert Woodruff: Chair, Notes From Underground, Battle of Black and Dogs, Autumn Sonata, and In a year With Thirteen Moons. These were produced at such prominent New York and regional theatres as Yale Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and The Duke on 42nd Street.

Michaël Attias was named a 2000 Artists' Fellowship Recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts and was awarded a MacDowell Arts Colony fellowship in Fall 2008 and Summer 2016.

Earlier
The product of migrations spanning North Africa, the Middle East, Western Europe and the American Midwest, Attias was born in Haïfa, Israel in 1968 and spent the first part of his childhood in Paris, where he attended the music conservatory and studied violin for a brief period. His family moved to Minneapolis in 1977. An early passion for the music of Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman led him to start playing the alto saxophone at the age of 15 under the guidance of great Minneapolis saxophonist and composer Pat Moriarty, while attending the Children’s Theatre School. Avid for adventure and experience, he graduated from high school as a junior and traveled for a year in Europe before enrolling at New York University as a Film and Music student. Somewhere in between, he had the great privilege of taking a couple of lessons with Lee Konitz. Judging that school was interfering with his education, he dropped out after the spring semester, went back to Paris for a year where he wrote a novel called Twines of Colesion (1000 pages thankfully destroyed), came back to the US for an eight-month cross-country trip that took him from New York City to San Francisco via Mexico, and returned to Paris in 1989 where he became bartender at the IACP, a music school founded by legendary bassist Alan Silva. There he met such heroes of the ex-pat scene as Steve Lacy, Sunny Murray, Frank Wright, Bobby Few and others. He recorded with a pianoless quartet dedicated to the music of Thelonious Monk, Four in One (In Situ 1992), made his first album as leader and composer with a quintet of French musicians (released on Igal Foni’s For Elevators/Jazzis, 1993). In January 1993, at the prompting of Anthony Braxton, he moved back to the US, sat in on his classes at Wesleyan University for one semester and finally moved to New York the following winter.