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.
CKW Trio's approach to acoustic post-modern jazz allows for a freedom of emotional expression. With solid grooves and explosions of energy and sound, CKW Trio's music reminds one of the music being played by Ken Vandermark and John Zorn's Masada. The instrumentation is similar to Julius Hemphill's trio; woodwinds, cello and percussion. CKW trio plays in a cutting edge jazz style making use of modern forms like circle music and experiments with time and rhythm. They use various non-western scales and sounds as central points for launching into improvisations. This adventure in jazz is created by the unique ideas of the members of the group and can be heard on their new CD, The Is.
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.
Whether drumming with avant-garde or Coltrane influenced jazz groups such as trumpeter Eddie Gale or recording his own improvisations, Andrew Wilshusen is always seeking to explore the boundaries of music. His keen ears and fluid coordination make him a drummer whose rhythms, which range from minimalist colorations to polyrhythmic tirades, always perfectly compliment his band mates while propelling them to new heights of their own. His drumming has been referred to as heart-felt, communicative, explosive, and highly imaginative.