Though well regarded as a professor with full academic training, Michael’s path to full time musical occupation began more informally, more or less at “street level.” He was active in school music programs and in the ’70s he began playing paying gigs when he was 15 under the supervision of his older brother Danny. Since then he has spent most days of every week practicing, studying, rehearsing, listening, teaching, playing gigs and concerts, or recording music. Michael’s educational achievements include independent studies with jazz luminaries Joe Lovano and David Liebman, mentoring with IAJE Hall of Fame educator Gene Aitken, concentrated study with saxophone professors Roger Greenberg and Jean Lansing, a Doctor of Arts degree in Saxophone Performance and Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado, a Master’s degree in Music Performance from Wichita State University, and a Bachelor’s degree from Cameron University in his home town of Lawton, Oklahoma. In the year 2000, Cameron University honored Dr. Cox with one of its three Alumni of the year awards, reflecting his commitment to academic tradition as well as his artistic pursuit of music as a performance art.
In addition to the CJO, Michael has maintained a continuous schedule as a freelance saxophone and woodwind soloist and performer. In Ohio you may have seen him in the Columbus and Lancaster Symphonies, the Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra or such groups as Brasileira, the Science Gravy Orchestra, Magically Delicious, the High Street Stompers, Too Far North, the Powerhouse Trio, or more recently System Theory, Still Motion and the Black Swamp Saxophone Quartet