The multi-instrumentalist Michael Cooke heads up the group, with his aggressive tenor saxophone style. This two time Emmy and Louis Armstrong Jazz Award winner plays a variety of instruments, you will hear him play soprano, alto & tenor sax, flute, soprano & bass clarinet, bassoon and percussion. Michael started playing jazz in High school where he played for homeless shelters in Atlanta. A cum laude music graduate University of North Texas, Michael has played in Europe, Mexico and all over the United States. Relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area, he has been exploring new styles and has been studying Larry Ochs Radar composition techniques. Denise Berardini of the San Francisco Beacon describes Michael's "talented sax flowing out color and tone with such feeling I haven't heard in quite a while. Michael plays with such dimension and flavor, that it sets his sound apart from the rest." Uncompromising, fiery, complex, passionate, and cathartic is how the All Music Guide labeled Michael's playing on "Searching" by Cooke Quartet and "Statements" by Michael Cooke.
A world-class trombonist Jen Baker's creative identity has no boundaries. She has spread her talents out over many genres of music, including classical symphonic, Renaissance, alternative/hard rock, free jazz/ free improvisation, Gregorian chant, and new music. She is involved in expanding the traditional repertoire and usage of the trombone with particular regard to theatrical solos. She received degrees in music performance from Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin Conservatory, and Mills College. The San Francisco Classical Voice says that Jens concerts are "...performed with brilliant mastery and virtuosity."
"Shoko Hikage, koto player extraordinaire will take you through the universe and beyond on her strings of sound. From Cherry Blossoms to John Cage, Shoko's performances will make you hear things you never even dream before." ---Lynda Hess, Artbeat. Shoko studied the koto with Chizuga Kimura, 2nd IEMOTO Seiga Adachi, 3rd IEMOTO Seiga Adachi of the Ikuta-ryu Sokyoku Seigen Kai. She graduated from Takasaki College with a major in koto music, and was immediately accepted as a special research student in Sawai Koto School where she subsequently received her masters certificate. Shoko moved to Honolulu to teach at the Sawai Koto Kai Hawaii. There, she held her first American solo recital at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Theater as part of the New Music Across America series. Shoko now lives in San Francisco, where she continues her pursuits in improvisational music and expanding the possibilities of the koto.
For over 15 years cellist Alex Kelly has been performing and recording a wide variety of Classical, non-Classical, and World Music styles. He has several graduate degrees in music, including a D.M.A. in cello performance, and was a member of the Wichita and Eugene Symphonies, the New Pickle Circus, and the Hundredth Monkey Ensemble. Alexs versatility is demonstrated in a variety of styles, which range Renaissance to Romantic, from avant-garde to rock. Alex frequently performs with Baroque cello, and with electric cello (enhanced with loop pedals and laptops). He is a classical musician as well as improviser and a jazz and rock musician. Alex has premiered over one hundred solo and chamber works. His other interests include conducting, electronic music, and ethnomusicology. Currently, he can be heard in performance with Joan Jeanreaud (former cellist of the Kronos Quartet), the Dresher Ensemble and the CKW Trio.
Timothy Orr, while at Wesleyan University, studied drums with Edward Blackwell who pointed Tim in the direction of acoustic avant-garde music. Incorporating influences from all eras of jazz, rock and improvised music, Tim's sound balances time and tempo playing mixed with the explosive energy from the bop and free jazz eras, the sonic organization of contemporary classical music and the creative blurring freedom of spontaneous composition. Tim has played in a number of zydeco bands on both coasts, and in 2006 contributed to the soundtrack for Nasri Zacharia's film, "The Tale of the Three Mohammeds". Tim has also cultivated a career in the music industry and has held positions at Virgin, TVT, Arkadia Records, Jazz In Flight, the Brubeck Institute, and the Monterey Jazz Festival. He is a journalist for both DRUM! and Traps Magazine, and is the driving force behind CQ.