Composer, Arranger, Conductor, Producer, Songwriter, Pianist
Awards + Recognition
- Emmy Award Winner: "Andreas Story"- ABC
- Emmy Award Nomination: "Look Away" - PBS
- Black Reel Nomination: "Mooz-lum"
- Israeli Oscar Award Nomination: "For My Father"
- JAZZIZ Critics Choice: Best Music of the Year: "Connected to the Unexpected" - (JVC)
- President Gerald Ford Collaboration: Boy Scouts of America Anniversary Project
- Israeli Grammy Award Winner: "VOICES"
Few individuals can go from writing movie scores and theater music to conducting symphony orchestras to writing pop songs, producing artists and playing jazz. Native Israeli Misha Segal, a highly skilled composer, arranger, conductor, producer, songwriter and pianist, does exactly that. He loves the genuine freedom to pursue the music genre of his choice.
Fluent in many musical languages, the Emmy Winner, Emmy Nominee, Black Reel nominee and Israeli Oscar Nominated composer Misha Segal exemplifies a border-free musician. His ability to infuse different cultural influences and music styles into his work is one reason why he has won major awards on three different continents. Segal is predictably unpredictable as he packages colorful notes into delightfully, melodic confections for the ears.
Composer / Conductor: Creative Man Behind the Notes
With over 100 feature film scores to his credit, composer Misha Segal admits, "failure was never an option." His contributions include Berry Gordy's – The Last Dragon, The Phantom of the Opera, which received wide critical acclaim for its originality and scope and the Brit Award for Best Soundtrack/Cast Recording, the all time favorite kids' movie, The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, and Un Secreto de Esperanza, Mexican diva Katy Jurado's last movie. Numerous other domestic and international films and even animated features like The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and The Secret Garden bear Segal's unique mark and style. His small screen work earned him both an Emmy Award and an Emmy Award Nomination.
Segal's compositions illuminate the color spectrum. He shades the notes with influences – one of his main heroes being Gustav Mahler. "Not so much directly in music, but because of Mahler's depth; eternal struggle with the concept of life / death and nature as expressed through his vast musical language; him being at the peak of the romantic era; his honesty; clarity; and never compromising message," Misha says. Even jazz pianist Tamir Hendelman, mentored by Segal, attests to Misha's "love of sweepingly inspiring figures in music, Bill Evans and Gustav Mahler - and the way their influence colored (Misha's) music."
From Misha's beautifully lyrical solo piano excursions to sometimes menacing and searing orchestral scores, it's just another day in the office -- no matter whether he's conducting a 90-piece orchestra in Hungary or an 80-piece orchestra in Dublin.
After moving to Los Angeles (LA), Segal was signed by the founder of Motown Records, Berry Gordy, to compose/write for their artists; eventually scoring Berry Gordy's final major film titled "The Last Dragon" - and the love theme song performed by Smokey Robinson.
Prior to relocating to LA, Misha enjoyed a successful career in New York (NY), where he initially began working for Columbia Records and RCA. He had the privilege of writing, arranging, orchestrating or producing for such high profile talent as Luther Vandross, Nancy Wilson, Bob James, Buddy Rich, Maynard Ferguson, Phyllis Hyman and Dave Grusin.
A vanguard in his native Israel, Misha's jazz, rock, pop, and classical compositions (performed by the Israeli Philharmonic and the Israeli Chamber Ensemble, among others) helped revolutionize the face of contemporary music in his homeland. His claim to fame is searching for new sounds, new horizons and ground breaking ideas. Considered to be one of the leading cultural influences in Israel, he garnered numerous #1 hits due in part to his interpretation and application of western music influences to the Israeli cultural scene. Given the style of music he brought to Israel, there is probably not anyone in songwriting, pop or rock that has not been somehow influenced by Misha's work there.
In the US Segal recorded a solo, three CD piano compilation titled Christmas Healing (PrimaVista - 2006). This was preceded by yet another two CD piano compilation, Female (PrimaVista - 2005). Described by fans as a cross between Chopin's Nocturnes and a laid back Keith Jarrett, the collection consists of improvised, original music and cherished, familiar love songs. Female is the core of Misha's concert series: "Beauty Found in Unlikely Places." Elizabeth Segal and her un-breakable spirit was the inspiration behind her son's concerts; she lost a six year battle with lung cancer on Mother's Day 2001. Segal used the concert series as an opportunity to heighten public knowledge of lung cancer and help inspire and heal those battling the disease. Misha still lives by his mother's philosophical words, "things happen for a reason, even if they don't seem logical at the moment, eventually the reason is revealed."
As a producer and co-writer, Segal's album Don't Say It's Over (Warner Brothers) features vocalist Randy Crawford, and spent three weeks at #1 on the New Adult Contemporary (NAC) Charts. Prior to that CD, Segal's album, Connected to the Unexpected (JVC), was played in heavy rotation by top NAC stations and at over 200 colleges across the country. Far ahead of its time, reviewers praised it as a "new genre in music." Misha's highly-acclaimed, first CD, Zambooka, (Music Masters) features legendary artists Chick Corea, Freddy Hubbard and Mark Isham. It hit #1 with the Critic's Choice Awards in JAZZIZ magazine and was endorsed by both Quincy Jones and Bob James. Segal's drive to develop unique compositions and arrangements are clearly evident in his first collabor-ative recording with "Blue Lou" Marini titled The Blue Lou & Misha Project - Highly Classified. His sixth album project (10th CD) as a leader, Segal pursues a cutting-edge, urban cool jazz vibe that re-sults in a sound-scape with edgy concepts and cliché-free tones. The celebrated composer takes listeners on a funky, sonic adventure showcasing 10 original tunes. Masterful programming, piano and sax combine with smooth rap rhythms and hints of humor on the PrimaVista - 2010 label that Segal founded. Overall, this unconventional, yet accessible, collection breaks new ground, fusing contemporary jazz, fusion, rock, straight-ahead jazz, rap and hip hop.
Before graduating from the Berklee College of music in Boston and heading to NY, Misha studied composition at the Guildhall School of music in London; apprenticed under 20th century master composer Dieter Schönbach in Germany; and initially studied with Israel's foremost composers -- Paul Ben-Haim, Noam Sherrif and Isaac Sadai -- as well as film and philosophy at Tel Aviv University.
When Misha Segal broke into the scene in Israel, it was not because he was influenced by the current Israeli music. The son of an amateur Russian musician (violin and piano) and jazz fanatic, Misha's ears were exposed to Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman from day one. His Viennese mother shared her love of Johann Strauss and musical theater's "Annie Get Your Gun" with her son. Growing up he also heard Elton John and The Beatles. Suffice it to say, between the two of them, their only child listened to Russian music, Viennese Music, Arabic music (on the radio), Israeli music, British Rock 'n Roll and America's jazz.
Outside of family, the greatest effect on Misha Segal's life during childhood came from two events: (1) an Oscar Peterson live performance, and (2) winning The Blues and Abstract Truth album at a radio contest. Misha cried for hours after seeing the legendary Peterson with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen. And Oliver Nelson's most acclaimed album with Freddie Hubbard changed Segal's life forever. "Who would've thought Ray Brown would play in one of my film scores years later or that Freddie Hubbard would perform a solo on my own CD?," Segal surprisingly said.
When not making music or listening to it, the amateur chef cooks up a storm, samples fine wines in the Napa-Sonoma Valleys and enjoys flying single engine planes. A champion on many levels, Misha was even revered as a karate athlete in his 20s.
Few composers capture their time and become the iconic voice of their age. Misha Segal found his voice in the 20th century and projected the sound of urban America, from the culture and continents he traversed into the 21st century.
The Forbidden Band™
The Forbidden Band™ is by far the most significant milestone in Misha's illustrious career.
A lifetime of a profoundly diverse musical voyage culminating in an artistic and philosophical statement expressed in a grand scale.
In 2011 Misha started working on a new CD idea. Having just finished the score for the movie Muz-loom he decided to use the theme from that movie as a staring point. The music for Muz-loom incorporated, besides traditional scoring, Middle Eastern elements, which is part of Misha's upbringing and which he thought would be a nice touch. What started as a core idea for a CD exploded into a life changing experience – the birth of The Forbidden Band™.
It all starts with a phone call from a young New York, African-American, Muslim director. Qasim Bashir called Misha letting him know that he had just seen a movie called For My Father which Misha had scored. Q loved the score, which, again utilized Middle Eastern elements within a legit Hollywood-style score. "That's exactly what I am looking for" he said. After finding out the subject matter of the movie, which dealt with Muslim students at a college in Michigan in the aftermath of 9/11 Misha hesitated for a moment. "You know that I am from Israel and I am Jewish, are you sure you're OK with me doing the music?" Q smiled, "I am hiring you because I love what you did for "For My Father" and I know you are right for my movie. If there's controversy as a result, let it be, I accept it with a blessing…"
Well, as Misha started working on that theme for his new CD he realized two things. One, that this was going to be a major undertaking what with Misha's piano playing plus a symphony orchestra, a rhythm section, and various Middle Eastern musicians to incorporate authentic, indigenous instrumentation. He also realized, as he found himself engaged with various musicians from the Middle East that this was much bigger than just another CD project. "There is a huge message here which I would like to communicate to the world. If we can have so much fun playing music together with people who are considered to be our enemies, then we should create a band that carries the message and shows the world that people can get along no matter their background, religion, gender or age. If enough people get the idea that wars are insane and that killing one another does not solve problems, maybe we can help cause a change. And what better way to show an example than through music!
The Forbidden Band™ idea was born and miracles started happening instantly.
Hans Zimmer and his partner Steven Kofsky graciously helped by allowing a video shoot of the band at their Remote Control Studios. Next, Disney Imagineering was introduced to the project and immediately invited The Forbidden Band™ to perform at the WDI studios for their Ideation event.
Currently The Forbidden Band™ is preparing a complete CD and an international tour.