Michael Wolff a renowned jazz recording artist, composer and arranger, and the former bandleader for "The Arsenio Hall Show" made several important contributions to The Tic Code. He is the composer of the film's original jazz score and most of the source music. As co-producer, he was the film's most important source of information about the jazz world, and gave both musical coaching and information about Tourette Syndrome to Gregory Hines and Christopher Marquette, He was also a consultant to the director, a musical coach to Gregory Hines and Chris Marquette, and even played a bit part in the film, as a recording engineer. Aside from all of that, he was the inspiration for the story.
Best known for his five and a half years as bandleader and head of the "posse" on "The Arsenio Hall Show," Wolff is also a critically-acclaimed jazz pianist, composer, and recording artist who has worked with some of the legends of the jazz world. He also suffers from a mild case of Tourette Syndrome, and in creating The Tic Code, his wife, screenwriter Polly Draper, clearly drew from her exposure both to the world of jazz and to the life of a "Touretter."
A native of New Orleans who grew up in Memphis and San Francisco, Wolff began to study classical piano at the age of eight, but spent his formative years also listening to Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, and Ray Charles, as well as the Beatles, Sly Stone, and James Brown. He was offered a scholarship to San Francisco's American Conservatory Theater, but passed it up to study at U.C.L.A. and U.C. Berkeley. At the age of nineteen, impatient to begin his career, he left college to tour and record with jazz vibist Cal Tjader.
After four albums and a world tour with Tjader, Wolff moved to Manhattan to play gigs with such music greats as Cannonball Adderely (and performed on Cannon's final album, "Phoenix"), Sonny Rollins, the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Orchestra, Lean-Luc Ponty, and Airto Morelia & Flora Purim. He also appeared with them at such prestigious jazz festivals as Monterey, Newport, Montreal, and Tokyo.
In the late seventies, singer Nancy Wilson hired Wolff as her music director, a position he held for five years, and which enabled him to learn orchestration and to conduct symphony orchestras around the world. During this time, he became good friends with Wilson's opening act, the young comedian Arsenio Hall. When Hall was eventually offered his own talk show in 1989, he chose Wolff to lead the band. The stint on national television was a temporary detour from Wolff's jazz career, but it brought him fame, along with the chance to play and become friends with musical idols such as Miles Davis, to perform at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, and to meet his future wife, Polly Draper, when she was a guest on the show during her "thirtysomething" days. Since "The Arsenio Hall Show" went off the air, Wolff has returned to jazz, and has earned wide acclaim for his albums, "Jumpstart!" (1995) and "2 A.M." (1996). He has just released "Pool of Dreams," a duet album with Alex Foster (the saxophonist who actually played Gregory Hines' music in The Tic Code), and in January, 1998, will release his next album, "Portraiture: The Blues Period" on the Fuel 2000/Varese Seaband label.
In addition to recording, Wolff has been performing around the world. He has also scored Ted Demme's feature film Who's the Man?, two movies for Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope (Dark Angel starring Eric Roberts, and The Conversation), and Room 1502 for Showtime.