Now: Malone hasn't made it back. "I miss my friends and the musicians," he says from his home in Austin, Texas. "There's so much that's happened."
Nine years, several CDs and a world of experience later, Malone makes his living "50 percent of the time" as a Jazz musician. His cruise ship gig lasted three years instead of four months. He went to New York for a while and played two years with Jazz organist legend Jimmy Smith. His main Austin music gig is with a band called Blaze, a collection of artists who play a fusion of Jazz and Hip Hop.
Although not based in Cincinnati, Malone still has loose ties to the area. "Blaze went to Taiwan with (Cincinnati musician) Mandy Gaines," he says. "We wanted to play in Cincinnati, but it just didn't happen."
Touring with Blaze isn't his only Jazz gig. Six months ago, he formed the Michael Malone Quartet, who will head to the studio in early 2004 to cut a CD.
So what about the other 50 percent of his time? "I'm a computer engineer with the Protective and Regulatory Commission," Malone explains. Ah yes, the day job. It seems inevitable for an artist, whether in Cincinnati or Austin.
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