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.