CQ's approach to acoustic modern Jazz is rooted in 60's and 70's modal style. This style allows for a freedom of emotional expression. With solid grooves and explosions of energy and sound, CQ's Jazz reminds one of the music being played in Oakland and San Francisco in the 70's by Pharaoh Sanders and McCoy Tyner. Time to meet the band. The multi-instrumentalist Michael Cooke heads up the group, with his aggressive tenor saxophone style. This Louis Armstrong Jazz award winner mainly plays tenor, but you will also hear him play soprano sax, alto sax, flute, and bass clarinet. Michael started playing Jazz in High school where he played for homeless shelters in Atlanta. He studied Jazz with Tony Carere, Ellis Marsalis, Hal Galper, Dan Haerle and Jim Riggs. A cum laude music graduate of North Texas State University, Michael has played in Europe, Mexico and all over the United States. Recently relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area, he is striving to develop his style in the direction of the early 70's Jazz music that used to be played in the area. 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.' Michael is 'excited to be playing with such talented musicians', as they work to revive and develop a San Francisco Bay Area Jazz sound. Pianist Mel Nelson, brings experience to the band. Having played, composed and arranged music professionally for over 15 years in L.A. and Washington DC, Mel solidifies the bands sound. He is a multi-instrumentalist playing bass, piano, flute and sax, but is now just focusing on piano. Mel has toured to world as a bass player with major jazz and pop acts. This experience helps him to always be able to add the right accompaniment or a burning solo. Mel has developed a unique heart felt sound, full of fire and grace. This sound has influenced the directions CQ has taken. Alec Lytle's upright bass playing has a classic big sound with a modern style. He and Michael have played together for a few years, which helps this new group have a seasoned sound. Alec has played with Marcus Roberts in San Luis Obispo and studied with many other notable Jazz performers. He has also performed all over the United Kingdom with touring groups while living in London and spent time in L.A. and Las Vegas but has returned to the Bay area to work on his musical directions. Alec was a member of the Absolute Quintet and the Pete Chen Trio before becoming a full time member of CQ. Beneath it all is young sensation Sameer Gupta on drums. This 22-year-old firecracker provides the energy for the group. A SF Bay area native, Sameer has been playing for 10 years and is a recent music graduate of Santa Clara University. Sameer started his musical studies in Japan and continued local studies with Wally Schnalle and Kevin Carnes. Traveling around the world allowed Sameer to learn many instruments in addition to set drums including vibes, World percussion, guitar, keyboards, and Classical percussion. A versatile player and composer Sameer's knowledge of Jazz, Classical, and World Music has helped to shape CQ's sound. CQ sometimes rounds off the group with a percussionist to provide that extra sounds they hear. Musicians Paul Fisher and Roland Robles have performed with CQ in this way.
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