MICHAEL SEMBELLO

Country USA

Style Melodic Rock/Synth Pop/New Wave/Pop/Rock/Jazz

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Sembello was born and raised in Philadelphia. He studied with jazz great Pat Martino and began his career in music as a session musician, working increasingly with high-profile artists as a guitarist. By age 17 he was working professionally with Stevie Wonder on electric and acoustic guitar as a studio player on Wonder’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale. He continued the same year, chosen as one of the core artists who worked on Songs in the Key of Life, an ambitious concept album that took two years in the making. He was credited as lead and rhythm guitarist on most of the tracks, and shares songwriting credit with Wonder on the song “Saturn”. The list of pop music personalities he worked with, or wrote for, includes Wonder (from 1974 to 1979), The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, George Benson, Barbra Streisand, Stanley Clarke, David Sanborn, Donna Summer, Miguel Mateos and New Edition among many others.

He released his first solo album, Bossa Nova Hotel, in 1983, and the song “Maniac” was selected for inclusion in the blockbuster film Flashdance. This song went on to become the second best charting song from the soundtrack (after the title track). That soundtrack was rewarded with a Grammy Award in 1983 for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.

In 1986 Sembello released his second album titled “Without Walls” released in Japan by Canyon Records and produced by himself and Richard Rudolph. However, You would be aware that “The Picture”, “Angelina” and “Hysterical” were deleted and instead of them “What You Really Want” was added. Only Japanese CD version includes “The Picture” and “Angelina” which are 2 tracks among 3 deleted tracks.

Sembello produced guitarist Jennifer Batten’s first solo album, Above Below and Beyond in 1992. In 1994, he produced Argentine singerValeria Lynch’s album Caravana de Sueños (1994), and co-wrote the title song with Puerto Rican Wilkins Vélez. In 1995, you can find out Michael’s name as the member of the group named Brother Time. Then he started his own production “MKD Production” with Kuni Misawa and Richard “Dick” Rudolph and released his own album “Backwards In Time” in 1997.

Sembello has spent much of his career scoring music to soundtracks for movies and film, some of which have achieved blockbuster commercial success. They are featured on such movies as Cocoon, Gremlins,Summer Lovers, The Monster Squad and Independence Day, among many others. His song “Gravity” from the film Cocoonwas accompanied by a music video directed by Cocoon director Ron Howard and included an appearance by Howard in a scripted fictional foreword to the video.

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With “Ancient Future” Sembello re-embarks his own selected collection album from his 90’s solo projects “Caravan Of Dreams”(1992), “Backwards In Time” (1997) and “Bridge” project (1997) plus his biggest hit “Maniac” jazz version included in Randy Waldman’s 3rd solo album “UnReel” (2001). In those era, Michael Sembello tried to be more multi-cultual and succeeded to merge such influences into his hyperacid Latin music style. Now, Michael Sembello has returned to his roots on the East Coast where it all began and we will see what he does there. Probably, the next project will be another different cornerstone of his musical journey. Based on my observation, most of the tracks on this record are basically same as those original version, but some tracks must be differently edited for this album; sometimes shorter, other times longer as shown below.

“The Lost Years” is Michael’s chronological song collection album came out in 2003. This album are designed to be a special gift to the fans which are now able to gain in one collection a lot of rare and unreleased tracks with an obvious emphasis on his rock roots. It also includes a magnificent rework of “Maniac” – the worldwide hit that Sembello had in 1982 off of the “Flashdance” soundtrack, plus his own version of the Jeff Paris hit “The Life Of My Broken Heart”. Jeff himself appears on the album in a duet on “Tear Down The Walls” while Jennifer Batten is guest guitarist on: “Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and “Tear Down the Walls”. I would emphasize that you will listen to self-remake versions of “What You Really Want” and “Burn It Up” taken from Michael’s 2nd solo album “Without Walls”, one of the hardest to get albums.

In 2008, Michael Sembello worked with saxophonist Michael Lington on his album Heat, which was nominated as Jazztrax Album of the Year for 2008. Michael and his brother Danny Sembello penned three songs with Lington for the project. Sembello travels to Brazil frequently and is good friends with Daniel Jobim, the grandson of legendary composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Sembello has recorded his vocals in six languages and is continually writing, producing and releasing albums.In May 2009 the album “Moon Island” was released on EMI Japan. The album consists of American pop songs given new arrangements with a strong Brazilian influence.

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– Bossa Nova Hotel [1983]
– Without Walls [1986]
– Caravan of Dreams [1992]
– Backwards in Time [1997]
– Ancient Future [2002]
– The Lost Years [2003]

 

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