Jazz saxophonist and flutist
Coke Michel Sextet in Concert
Performing compelling music with origins in jazz, classical, folk, extended technique, and improvisation, The Alex Coke Carl Michel Sextet features musician/composers Alex Coke on woodwinds and guitarist Carl Michel. Together with Austin Symphony’s principal harpist Elaine Barber, Liminal Sound Series producer Bob Hoffnar on pedal steel, first call jazz bassist Dr. James Suter, and talented Austin percussionist Carolyn Trowbridge on vibes, the sextet will perform at the Draylen Mason Studio at KMFA on Thursday June 9, 2022 at 7:30pm.
This unique ensemble is an outgrowth of Coke and Barber’s popular weekly Driveway Concert Series that ran from April 2020 through June 2021 in response to music gigs and gatherings being curtailed as a result of the pandemic. The duo performed outdoors, socially distanced, with each member of the sextet individually in turn, appearing as special guests. Playing music as a gift to their local neighborhood at first, the project took shape as the possibilities for meetings indoors returned.
The Monday night concerts made way for rehearsals, new composition, and the formation of an unusual and very accomplished performing and recording ensemble. They released their first CD together, The Emissary, in October 2021 to good reviews and now a year after the final driveway concert, a second CD is in the works.
As a founding member of the Creative Opportunity Orchestra with many projects and recordings to his credit, Emmy Award winning composer Carl Michel had this to say : “The 6tet is a welcomed opportunity to work again with my friend Alex Coke. The “driveway concerts,” that were presented by Elaine Barber and Alex to their neighborhood, provided a way to collaborate with other musicians over the course of the pandemic shutdown. That process initiated the formation of the 6tet, a unique collaboration of instruments with some great musicians. This collaboration has opened up my palette in composition and arranging for these individuals.”
For the upcoming performance and live recording, works will include new arrangements of music by Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Valentyn Silvestrov, and Paul Motian with some new compositions by Coke and Michel in the mix .
One of the first jazz ensembles to perform at KMFA’s Draylen Mason Studio, the concert on June 9 is for an all ages audience. Presale Tickets are on sale now and will also be available at the door.
For more info and sound samples please visit:
This performance is made possible in part thanks to The Liminal Sound Series, dedicated to the commissioning of new works and collaborations between visionary composers and Austin, TX. based musicians and performers.
“They can drift with meditative beauty or roar with passion… their collective sound lingers in the memory.” – Jerome Wilson on The Emissary at All About Jazz
Alex Coke and Carl Michel-Jazz at the Draylen Mason Studio
Jazz composers Alex Coke and Carl Michel will present an evening of their own and others’ works this October 20, 2021 at 7:30pm in the new State-of-the-Art Draylen Mason Studio.
Home of classical radio station KMFA, Coke and Michel’s sextet will be the first jazz group to be presented in the new space.
Leading an ensemble whose members individually excel in several musical genres and, collectively, create a unique and memorable soundprint, saxophonist-flutist Coke and guitarist Michel bring together a group that includes Austin Symphony principal harpist Elaine Barber, pedal steel player Bob Hoffnar (Liminal Sound Series), double bassist James Suter, and percussionist Carolyn Trowbridge on vibes.
Performing compelling music with origins in jazz, classical, folk,
extended technique and improvisation, this unique ensemble is an outgrowth of Coke and Barber’s popular weekly Driveway Concert Series that ran from April 2020 through June 2021.
Each individual member of the sextet was featured as a special guest
during the series.
The evening concert and accompanying CD feature music from a new recording, entitled The Emissary, inspired by artist Christopher Hynes, whose painting of the same name graces the CD cover.
With the reimagining of compositions penned by Coke, Michel, Paul Motian, Hildegard von Bingen, and Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), and an exciting new CD to see and hear, the evening promises to be a stellar experience of art, music, and culture.
Welcoming any and all interested ears, the studio will have an open, general admission seating plan to allow for social distancing. Masks are required and all ages are welcome.
Tickets are $20 or $35 with a CD.
Presales are encouraged as seats are limited.
Tickets on sale here
Arabesque-sounds from Alex Coke and Carl Michel Sextet
From the Alex Coke & Carl Michel CD “The Emissary”
Bob Hoffnar-pedal steel
Composition by Paul Motian (Yazgol Music-BMI) Recorded July 16, 2021 in Austin TX
Tuesday September 21, 2021
7:30pm Monks 501 East Pedernales 2E
Austin TX 78702
Saxophone/Flutist Alex Coke takes the stage in quartet at Monks Jazz joined by Bruce Saunders on guitar Michael Stevens on bass, and Masumi Jones on drums in an evening of memorable originals and uncommon standards for #ProjectSafetyNet.
The Austin Jazz Society will be awarding Alex and his Worthy Constituent, Rich Harney The Hall of Fame Award.
Grab a table for the in-studio audience or listen via YouTube livestream:
Alex Coke (born 1953, Dallas Texas) is a jazz saxophonist, flutist and composer. He graduated with his B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1976, with emphasis on flute performance. An original member of the Austin-based Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Coke performed with Tina Marsh in various formations for over 25 years. Working from both Texas and The Netherlands, he has received several awards including:
1988-1989 Best Jazz Band, Austin Chronicle Music Awards
(Chris Duarte and Justus)
1990 Best Saxophonist, Music City Critics Poll/Austin Texas
1990 Best Jazz Bands Music City Critics Poll/Austin Texas
(Countenance #1, and Worthy Constituents #3)
1990 Best Unsigned Bands Musician Magazine/USA
(Countenance, and Worthy Constituents)
2007 Silver ADDY Award Winner/ Texas
[CD Packaging for A Child’s Christmas In Wales]
2010 Austin Chronicle Music Awards Hall of Fame Nominee
2019 Austin Chronicle Music Awards Hall of Fame Nominee
2020 Jazz at St James A.D. Mannion Award/Austin Texas
2020 Austin Jazz Society Hall of Fame Award/ Austin Texas
2021 Texas State Artist Nominee
From 1990-2000 and then again in 2011-2015, he toured and recorded with the internationally renowned Dutch jazz group, the Willem Breuker Kollektief. An improvisor at heart, Coke’s eclectic attitude has led him to explore everything from Be-Bop to Huddie Ledbetter. His flute studies have ranged from Eric Dolphy to Indian ragas on the bamboo flute to extended flute techniques such as those researched by Robert Dick, Ann LaBerge and Wil Offermans.
Coke’s CD, entitled “Wake Up Dead Man/Iraqnophobia,” features two large group compositions commissioned by Tina Marsh and The Creative Opportunity Orchestra. It was recorded on the VoxLox label which spotlights humanitarian and ecological causes. “Wake Up Dead Man” was featured in Forum Theatre on The Death Penalty at The Eye & Tooth Festival in Austin, where Coke was a panelist in March 2009. Coke’s recording, It’s Possible, recorded in 2007, features duos and trios with Tina Marsh and Steve Feld and is also on the Vox Lox label.Alex Coke has also worked with Gerald Wilson, Charles Tolliver, the Paradise Regained Orchestra, Trio Henk de Jonge, Burton Greene, Anton Goudsmit, David Krakauer’s Abraham, Inc, and award winning poet Carolyn Forche. He has also been heard with Alejandro Escovedo, John Jordan Trio, the Mysterious Quartet From Helsinki featuring Chris Duarte, Maryann Price, Rob Verdurmen’s Drummer’s Double Bill, Oliver Rajamani, Greezy Wheels, White Denim and many, many others.
His latest recordings are noted in the partial discography below:
• Shadow Man, John McLean, Leaky Shoes Blues Records, 2020
• In Person, White Denim, Radio Milk Records, 2019
• Reeds & Deeds Live at JazzCase, Reeds & Deeds, el Negocito eNR074, 2019
• So Nice To Come Home To, John McLean, Indy, 2019
• Alex Coke Liminal #1, Liminal Sound, Rock Tumbler Records, 2019
• Somebody Special, Jay Rozen, VoxLox 218 2018
• Out of The Box Willem Breuker Kollektief, BVHAAST 12016, 2016
• Chamber PSoto, WLampe, ACoke, AGorter, GHadow, Indy, 2017
▪ Harmattan, Aanya Arts Quartet VoxLox /CD 2017
▪ The Struggle Can Be Enobling, Klez-Edge, Disk Respect 01 CD 2016
▪ Z Octet, Peggy Stern, Estrella Music/CD 2015
▪ Topographies of the Dark, Sculptural Paintings by Virginia Ryan, VoxLox 108, 2008
▪ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, w/ S Stern, R Harney, Aardvark Records 72008, 2006
▪ The Compositions of Eric Dolphy, BVHAAST 1005, 2006
▪ Iraqnophobia/Wake Up Dead Man, VoxLox Records, 2005
▪ S.O.S., Drummers Double Bill, BVHAAST 0703, 2003
▪ Horn To Horn, Live Action Brass Band, Outpost Productions 1999
▪ Jumping Shark, Trio Henk de Jonge, BVHAAST CD9103 CD 1991
▪ Trained Ants, Authorized Bootleg, Cassette 1989
▪ Alex Coke New Visions, re Records 001 LP1982
With Tina Marsh and/or Creative Opportunity Orchestra
▪ Migration -ltd release CD /2008
▪ It’s Possible, Alex Coke, VoxLox 308, 2008
▪ New Texas Swing, Cre-Op-Muse 010 , 2002
▪ Circle of Light, CD/2000
▪ The Heaven Line CD/1994
▪ Out On The Western Plains, Leadbelly Legacy Band, Outpost Productions 1999
▪ Transformation Vol. 1 and 2/ cassette 1992
▪ RadioActive, The Creative Opportunity Orchestra cassette 1990
▪ Benediction, The Creative Opportunity Orchestra, LP/1988
With Rich Harney
▪ WC ’13 Aardvark 72023 CD 2015
▪ Sessions Aardvark AR72019 CD/2012
▪ Where Love Begins, AR-72010 CD/2007
▪ Soul Prayers Aardvark CD 72007/2005
▪ Through The Years 1988-2001, The Worthy Constituents, Cre-Op-Muse 08, 2001
▪ The Worthy Constituents, Cassette/1986
With Willem Breuker Kollektief
▪ Willem Breuker Kollektief at Ruta Maya Cafe Austin, Texas BVHAAST 0506, 2006
▪ With Strings Attached BVHAAST 0203 , 2002
▪ The Parrot BVHAAST 9601, 2001
▪ Thirst BVHAAST 0300, 2000
▪ 25 Years On The Road (DVD/2CDS) BVHAAST 9914/15 , 1999
▪ Hunger, Thirst Willem Breuker Kollektief & Loes Luca, BVHAAST 9916 , 1999 PAKKEPAPEN BVHAAST 9807, 1998
▪ Parade, Willem Breuker Kollektief, BVHaast CD 9101
▪ Kurt Weill BVHAAST 9808, 1998
▪ Psalm 122 BVHAAST 9803, 1998
▪ Music For His Films 1967-1994, Willem Breuker Johan Van Der Keuken, ▪
▪ Willem Breuker Kollektief Meets DJazzex BVHAAST 9513
▪ Sensamaya, BVHAAST CD 9509
▪ Overtime/Uberstunden NM Classics 92042
▪ Van Het Jaar Van De Ensembles (Compilation), Polygram 454 058-2
▪ Deze Kant Op Dames BVhaast CD 9301
▪ Parade BVHaast CD 9101
Put a sax in Alex Coke’s hands and he uses it to create amazing textures in the same way a painter might.
Maria Mesa, Austin Daze
Iraqnophobia/Wake Up Dead Man
improviser but a daring conceptualist, unafraid to think in terms of long form or to bring an explicitly political sensibility to Jazz.
“This trio out of Austin, TX comprises voice, a variety of woodwinds (mostly flutes) West African multi-toned slit drum and toys. Several tracks are improvised over other recordings we do not hear (on #2 they are all listening to the record but not to each other!); tracks 4-7 are a suite in honor of Steve Lacy. Marsh’s vocals stretch and twist like taffy, laced with whispered syllables, and the instruments provide a timeless, often ritualistic “world music” feel.”
KZSU Stanford Radio 90.1 FM
“The sounds on this trio CD are both ancient and postmodern, universal and obscure. Reed and flute player Alex Coke and singer Tina Marsh have a long association through an Austin, Texas ensemble called the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, and their simpatico is evident from the first mysterious notes of It’s Possible. Marsh’s vocals stretch and twist around Coke’s moaning, buzzing spirals and keening, fluttering lines like taffy, soaring high overhead and then dropping down for whispered syllables like some half-heard Balinese monkey chant. Beneath them, the calming tones of Steve Feld’s ashiwa (a West African slit drum) give the pieces an enigmatic, almost ritualistic air. On several tracks, the trio improvises over existing recordings which we do not hear. These pieces are missing their cores, but what is left is fascinating: disconnected reaction that implies but does not reveal the whole. The results are weird, spooky and restlessly inventive.”
Alex Coke/Tina Marsh/Steve Feld
An archive honoring Tina Marsh memory has been recently established in Austin, Texas, with the goal of making available to the public an important collection of recordings and documents regarding her career and life.
Tina Marsh was not just a gifted protagonist in the contemporary music but also a musical activist who dedicated her life to the advancement of arts and new talents.
On August 19 2008, Alex Coke, Tina Marsh and Steve Feld released “It’s possible” their last album together, and Tina Marsh’s last recording. “It’s Possible” is not the type of fashionable music that sounds outdated after years. Until today it stands under the sign of timeless innovation, going from subtle, to bold and intense, travelling from African to Western inspirations, mixing ethnology, nature. emotions and associations.
Tina Marsh’s pure voice is more than a complement to the magical ambient created by Alex Coke and Steve Feld, evolving as an organic part of them. Highly sensitive, she travels between poetic and elementary, expressing the unspeakable through her original vocabulary of onomatopoeic sounds and emotions, inviting us to a meeting with the unfamiliar.
The free style of arrangements extended over the boundaries of a labeled territory opens the door to adventurous combinations as on the title track, where the intensity and color of Tina Marsh’s voice is wonderfully backed by the velvet sound of flute, at the point when both instrument and human voice become as one.
Unforgettable is the unusual rendering of Lonely Woman, or the meandering spiritual Deep River. A little masterpiece is “Eclipse” revealing the impressionistic delicacy of the Khaen, a Lao mouth-organ played by Alex Coke while on the collective composition “Peace Prayer”, Tina Marsh singing reaches a high level of dignified beauty.
This is an album that prompts listeners wherever they live, to forget about conventions and learned patterns and let their imagination free, and “live” what they hear. It is like a momentary return to a time where humanity reinvents the music, learning how to express itself by listening to the sounds of nature.
Alex Coke- New Texas Swing
“Texas music comes in all shapes and sizes, but rarely does it take the elusive form served up here by local saxophonist/flautist Alex Coke. New Texas Swing swings all right — hard — but certainly not in the traditional sense. The album’s title is perhaps borrowed from NPR commentator Kevin Whitehead’s book, New Dutch Swing, which examined Amsterdam’s Dadaistic jazz scene. Coke, a former member of the Amsterdam-based Willem Breuker Kollektief, has injected a similar exuberance into the music of various Texas composers ranging from Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly) to Ornette Coleman. Recorded live at Amsterdam’s legendary Bimhuis, the result is a sometimes challenging, often mesmerizing, headlong excursion into creative improvisation that’s grounded in the tradition of Texas folk forms, but contorted, reshaped, and extrapolated into something altogether different. Coke has gathered a cast of free-jazz veterans that includes Steve Lacy drummer John Betsch, Kollektief bassist Arjen Gorter, and Austin’s CO2 vocalist/matriarch Tina Marsh. Together they have a field day winding their way through thorny musical passages. Versions of the two Leadbelly tunes were previously recorded by Coke and Marsh some 15 years ago with their Leadbelly Legacy Band, while a rendering of Ornette Coleman’s lovely “Mothers of the Veil” appeared on Marsh’s Out of Time. These live sides contain more depth, refinement, and energy with Marsh’s acrobatic vocal dexterity providing a noteworthy foil to some of Coke’s most impressive playing to date. This may not be your grandparents’ idea of swing, but like many Texans, Coke sometimes likes to play by his own rules.”
Alex Coke’s Iraqnophobia
“Commissioned by Tina Marsh for Austin’s Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Alex Coke correlates the Texas prison setting of his previous “Wake Up Dead Man” suite with Iraqnophobia and the misfortune of innocent citizens caught in an endless war. With each movement inspired by the images of local photographer Alan Pogue, Coke personalizes hardened convicts and the Iraqi spirit by translating their characters through jazz. Taking cues from the hard bop of Sonny Rollins, the free jazz of Eric Dolphy, the soul jazz of Larry Young, and the jazz fusion of Michal Urbaniak, CO2 puts 25 years of experience as a functioning collective into the visual expressionism of their playing. Wielding a tenor saxophone to vault himself across the “Danger Line” of “Wake Up Dead Man,” Coke releases pent-up emotion upon a world oblivious to the concept of forced prison labor as slavery updated. As Iraqnophobia shifts the sands of lost time to foreign lands, an exploratory communiqué between divergent cultures ripens with Marsh’s vocal dervish on “Longnecks and the Shah.” A healthy dose of empathetic projection and Middle Eastern modal landscapes lend Iraqnophobia its insider’s view.”
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