Carla Cook is daring. She is a jazz singer/songwriter who sings standards beautifully -- but she doesn't stop there. Cook is willing to put a jazz spin on songs not written by traditional jazz composers. Songs that, until you hear her sing them, you'd never imagine could be interpreted as jazz. This native Detroiter, who grew up in a musically rich and diverse environment, brings all her influences to bear within her repertoire. In her songbook you'll find elements of R&B, European classical, Motown, Blues and Gospel. Cook has always eschewed labels, and refuses to become a jazz purist or snob. That willingness to simply sing what she loves, bringing an earthy sophistication to every song, is what gives Cook her signature style. In 1999, Cook recorded her debut album, It's All About Love. The CD enjoyed favorable reviews and received a Grammy nomination in the Best Jazz Vocal Performance category and was awarded the AFIM Indie Award for Best Jazz Vocal in 2000. In 2000, Cook recorded her second album, Dem Bones and in 2002, she recorded Simply Natural, both for MAXJAZZ. Her albums continue to receive critical acclaim.
When Craig Harris exploded onto the jazz scene in 1976, he brought the entire history of the jazz trombone with him. From the growling gutbucket intensity of early New Orleans music through the refined, articulate improvisation of the modern era set forth by J.J. Johnson, and into the confrontational expressionism of the ’60s avant-garde, Craig handled the total vernacular the way a skilled orator utilizes the spoken word.
He has performed with a veritable Who’s Who of progressive jazz’ most important figures – including Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, Sam Rivers, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jaki Byard, Muhal Richard Abrams, David Murray, Henry Threadgill, Lester Bowie, The WORLD Saxophone Quartet, The Roots, RAKIM and the list goes on and on – his own projects displayed both a unique sense of concept and a total command of the sweeping expanse of musical expression. And it’s those two qualities that have dominated Craig’s past 15 years of activity, bringing him far beyond the confines of the jazz world and into the sphere of multimedia and performance art as composer, performer, conceptualist, curator and artistic director. Projects like, Souls Within the Veil, composed to commemorate the centennial of W. E. B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk. Brown Butterfly, a multi-media work based on the movement of Muhamed Ali with video, dance, and music. God’s Trombones, based on James Weldon Johnson’s classic collection of poems that refigure inspirational sermons by itinerant Negro preachers.