Bandleader, composer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Kammers has been a creative force in the Brooklyn underground music scene since his arrival there in 2001. Active as
a leader and sideman in a wide variety of contexts, Kammers has worked with groups as diverse as freak folkers Akron/Family, dub reggae heavyweights The Easy Star Allstars, Fela devotees Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, film legend Melvin Van Peebles, perennially touring jammers The Heavy Pets, The Funk Ark, and Bobby Previte's Voodoo Orchestra North, to name but a few. He channels his wide ranging musical experience into his 15 piece Space Funk Big Band, The MK Groove Orchestra. The orchestra performs regularly in a wide variety of NYC venues that reflect the bands range and abilities: upscale Manhattan venues The Blue Note and The Highline Ballroom, Williamsburg rock clubs like Spike Hill, raw loft spaces such as Studio BPM. Recently the band have become regulars at the long running off Broadway theater production Sleep No More, performing after sets at the venue's beautifully crafted 1920s style speakeasy The Manderley.
Kammers has composed prolifically for the band since it's inception: The MKGO's eponymous debut album was released in Japan in 2004 on P-Vine records with the music featured on Japanese television and film. A steady stream of self released albums have followed, leading to the recent addition to the band of their lady of song, Ms. Lisa McQuade on vocals, and their recent signing to Ropeadope. With these recent developments and over 65 arrangements in the band's repertoire, "Live at Studio BPM, Vol. 1." is just the beginning of this dynamic partnership, with many exciting musical releases on the horizon.
Mirroring the classic instrumentation of big bands of the 1930s and 1940s (3 trumpets, 2 trombones, 3 saxes, flute) the MKGO's sound is rooted in tradition yet catapulted into more modern territory with a rhythm section (2 guitars, Fender P-bass, drums and percussion) that channels James Brown more than Duke Ellington. Performer Magazine sums up the band's sound: "The MKGO juxtaposes its funk lexicon with Afro-Cuban forms and rhythms and dresses it up with edgy, rock textures. Add seriously well informed jazz improvisation, a touch of face-melting metal, some bewilderingly complex polyrhythms and an occasional cacophonic freak-out, and you have a group that is impossible to categorically define."
Drawing on diverse influences, including Jimmy McGriff, Tito Puente, and Sun Ra, MK Groove Orchestra erupts with adventurous original compositions and energetic covers of tunes ranging from Kung Fu movie themes to classic funk, rock, and jazz.
MK Groove Orchestra features Kammers (tenor saxophone, compositions and direction), John Beaty (alto saxophone), Joe Beaty (trombone), Thomas Cummings (guitar), Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet), Tomoaki Kanno (drums), Jonathan Powell (trumpet), Dan Reitz (bass trombone), Abe Seiferth (guitar), Aaron Shafer-Haiss (percussion), Kevin Smith (bass guitar), and Christopher Tordini (bass guitar).
MK Groove Trio
MK3 is the touring unit of the much larger 13 piece Space Funk Big Band, The MK Groove Orchestra. A mobile laboratory creating and exploring the DNA of the large ensemble, stretching original compositions to their limits, and exploring cover pieces influential to the groups canon, MK3 hits hard and takes no prisoners.
Tomoaki Kanno: Drums
Chris Kuklis: Guitar
Michael Kammers: Saxophone and Farfisa Organ