Primary Instrument: Guitar
Composer and guitarist Carl Michel started playing music at a early age, initially inspired by rock and blues guitarists. After high school his interests shifted towards jazz, and after studying for a brief period at the West Bank School Of Music in Minneapolis, he eventually went to Berklee College of Music (1977-1979). In 1980, he moved to Austin, TX, with his brother, percussionist Robert Booka Michel, and--with Tina Marsh--became Co- founder of The Creative Opportunity Orchestra, a large ensemble dedicated to performing new compositions.
In 1985, he moved to Madison, WI, where he was actively involved with the Madison Music Collective. The Carl Michel Group, featuring Gerald Cleaver on drums, Michael Graye on alto sax and Tim Flood on bass, has been performing in the Detroit area since 1995. He has performed in Austin with Alex Coke, Rich Harney, Rock Savage, and Horacio Rodriguez. In Madison, he performed with Joan Wildman, Hans Sturm, Ray Kaczynski, Dane Richardson, Bill Anschell, Les Thimming, and Scott Fields. In Ft. Worth, Drew Phelps performed with him, and in Detroit, in addition to the musicians who are featured on his recently released CD, he has performed with Mark Hynes, Ken Kellet, and Ron Jackson.
According to Carl, I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to a lot of different types of music when I was young. I can remember hearing popular music, jazz, folk and country music on the radio and listening to classical music in my school when I was growing up. I started out on cornet in school band and when adolescence hit, I gravitated towards rock and played in 'garage bands'. I was mostly intrigued with the guitarists that were more geared towards improvisation-- Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Frank Zappa and Jerry Garcia.
After reading about their influences, I listened to B.B. King, Howling Wolf and John Lee Hooker and I would 'cop licks' off of the records. It was the exposure of John McLaughlin and Ralph Towner that turned my head towards jazz and when a friend of mine turned me on to Joe Pass, I knew that I had some serious studying to do. I started to study music seriously at the West Bank School of Music in Minneapolis and then attended Berklee College of Music. After that I moved to Austin, TX and taught private lessons and did various gigs. I put together a group that played my compositions, and I helped form, with Tina Marsh, the Creative Opportunity Orchestra, a large ensemble that performs the compositions of its members. In 1983, I moved to Madison, WI, and spent some time in Philadelphia, PA, during 1984 and 1985, and then moved back to Madison. There, I became involved with the Madison Music Collective, a non-profit organization that promotes and sponsors performances of jazz and improvised music. I spent some time in Ft. Worth, TX, and in the San Francisco Bay area from 1990 to 1992 before settling in Detroit. I moved to Ann Arbor in 1999.