The Matt Cook Collective

Jazz, hip-hop, alt-rock — when the Kansas City band Matt Cook Collective formed, each drew from a different genre. Yet it all worked.

“Every band member comes from a completely different musical upbringing. From indie to gypsy jazz to folk to hip-hop all the way to classic rock, our group’s members cover so many genres,” Cook says.

While the group classifies its music as fusion, you never know what route a member will take it at shows, with the latest set for 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18, at Magoon’s, 632 S. Eighth St.

The concert is part of the group’s latest tour, a fun trek the members decided to take together to play concerts in different areas, as well as put on some clinics.

“(Member Joel Gordon) suggested maybe we could do a tour some day. That was about a year ago, and now we’re on the road for a week playing nine shows and 10 clinics. It’s really special,” Cook says.

Each show is a new experience for the band and the audience as there’s no telling what direction it will go.

Cook says when a member takes the lead, they often go down some interesting, exciting avenues they didn’t expect.

“I would describe it as an adventure. It started out more jazz standard-based, and it has evolved into almost all original music, some extremely high-energy funk tunes, some folk tunes, some Indian tunes with sitar. It goes from bizarre to head-bobbing every tune,” he says.

The band channels all of those different influences well, with a solid musical shorthand and an ability to collaborate with ease.

“Joel actually organized a jazz big band by himself, and after a couple years of that he approached me and suggested we start an ensemble that I would head up in rehearsals, and act as the frontman speaking on behalf of the band. Joel booked a show with some of our close musical friends on board, we had a rehearsal and went for it,” Cook says.

All of the members, which include Cook, Gordon, Derek Pyle, Nate McDonald, Nick Brown and Matt Clinkenbeard, work well using jazz as a base and adding to it.

“Jazz is such an interesting genre in that you can make it whatever you want it to be through improvisation and interpretation, and I think that’s what really fascinated me and made me want to be great,” Cook says.

Speaking personally, Cook was equally drawn to acts ranging from hip-hop artist MF Doom to Bon Iver. When he’s not performing and teaching with the band, he also has a solo project and produces and creates hip-hop and funk instrumentals.

Working with the group helps keep his mind and musical skills sharp.

“The biggest thing is it keeps us all on our toes. As a collective, any member can bring music, so we never know what genre of charts we’re going to be reading, or how each band member will interpret the groove, etc,” he says.

Andrew Gaug can be reached at andrew.gaug@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPgaug.

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