Let all who are hungry come and eat...

Interview with Michael Booker of the Michael Booker Quartet

Michael Booker

We chatted recently with Michael Booker, whose band the Michael Booker Quartet will be performing live at Kosherlicious this year, about the challenges and rewards of making music. To see Michael in action, please check out Kosherlicious on Tuesday November 25 at Roy Thomson Hall.

Tell us a little bit about your band – what do you play? What kind of music do you make?

This band is actually a very recent “reduced” version of my ten piece group, MB10, which plays all original music by myself and Tara Kannangara, as well as arrangements and adaptations of existing music I’ve prepared. What you will hear with this group – Michael Brooker Quartet – is a mixture of tunes I perform with my large band, MB10, as well as some more electronically-induced material, both originals and covers (of groups like Dirty Loops and KNOWER to name a few), for quartet (Trumpet/Voice, Keyboard, Electric Bass, Drums). Another key aspect of this group for me is the fact that – while I hold a degree in Trombone Performance – I’ll be performing on keyboard, synthesizer and voice in this group, which will really allow for some new textures that I couldn’t ever express on my own. Expect a mixture of modern jazz and electro-funk with infectious melodies, complex harmony, and unstoppable grooves.

How long have you been a musician, and what got you started?

I’ve been a musician now for 7 years professionally and – while I owe my beginnings in music to various things – probably have my parents to blame for an early exposure to music. My mother sings and plays piano by ear, having released an album in 1995, and my father is a pianist, singer, and alto saxophone player, to whom I owe my earliest exposure to jazz and classical music. Beyond that, I can say that an initial interest in the guitar at age 14, which through a tangled journey of rock to ska to funk to fusion to jazz and recently pop, has led me to a place where, as a University of Toronto Jazz Studies graduate, I have an abiding respect and love for jazz and classical music, while still being able to appreciate modern advances in beat making and grooves.

What are the best parts of performing for an event like KOSHERLICIOUS?

First and foremost, the ability to play for an event like KOSHERLICIOUS in support of MAZON Canada’s fantastic initiatives is extremely rewarding to all of us. To be able to contribute to an event and organization that does so much for Canada’s hungry will provide a very special atmosphere that myself and my musicians rarely experience. Second, playing for an event like KOSHERLICIOUS enables myself, as well as Tara (Trumpet, Voice), Jeff (Electric Bass), and Mark (Drums) to play for perhaps an entirely new audience and with that gain new insights into how our music is received by a set of professionals outside that of musicians, as we often play music in front of other musicians which, while great in it’s own way, can definitely bias a person’s approach.

What can event patrons expect from your performances at this year’s event?

Event patrons can expect an abundance of variety in style, from jazz and funk to pop, indie, folk, electro and much more, but a very consistent commitment to melody, tight arrangements and infectious grooves that will leave no doubt in their mind that Roy Thomson Hall is the only place to be that night. A profoundly captivating set of musicians, the Michael Brooker Quartet will offer something new to KOSHERLICIOUS that is more than worthy of this venue and it’s storied past.

Anything else you’d like to add?

While the Michael Brooker Quartet is a new creation, my group MB10 has recently released an EP on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play Store called Unbound, which I am very proud to present as the group’s first recording and an idea of what is to come on November 25th.

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