Updated: May 11, 2023
Active since: 2021
Leading an ensemble whose members individually excel in several musical genres and, collectively, create a unique and memorable soundprint, saxophonist-flutist Coke and guitarist Michel bring together a group that includes Austin Symphony principal harpist Elaine Barber, pedal steel player Bob Hoffnar (Liminal Sound Series), double bassist James Suter, and percussionist Carolyn Trowbridge on vibes.
Performing compelling music with origins in jazz, classical, folk, extended technique and improvisation, this unique ensemble is an outgrowth of Coke and Barber's popular weekly Driveway Concert Series that ran from April 2020 through June 2021.
Composer and instrumentalist Alex Coke received his B.A. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1976, with an emphasis on flute performance, before becoming one of the original members of the Creative Opportunity Orchestra and a touring member of the renowned Dutch ensemble Willem Breuker Kollektief. With a distinctive sound and an inclination toward experimentation, Coke exemplifies the traditions pioneered by fellow Texas tenors and jazz flutists, while expanding the possibilities of extended technique. His projects as bandleader include Live Action Brass Band, Leadbelly Legacy Band, New Texas Swing with Tina Marsh, and the post-bop quintet, The Worthy Constituents with pianist and composer, Rich Harney. Coke’s extensive discography includes his many projects and his work as a featured soloist with The Austin Jazz Workshop, Greezy Wheels, White Denim, Maryann Price, Accra Trane Station, KlezEdge, Reeds and Deeds, and many others.
Elaine Barber is Principal Harpist of the Austin Symphony and a regular guest with San Antonio Symphony. She performs a wide range of chamber music, solos, new music and early music in Austin and Central Texas. She plays with Texas Early Music Project (medieval & renaissance), Austin Baroque Orchestra, Allegro Chamber Trio (classical), Cleo Trio (jazz), and has worked with artists as diverse as Renee Fleming, Gladys Knight, and Shearwater. She’s a passionate teacher and director of the Girl Scout Harp Ensemble, the only known Girl Scout troop made up entirely of harpists.
Pedal steel guitarist Bob Hoffnar relocated to Austin from NYC in 2009 and has since become a major contributor to Austin’s cultural landscape. Originally from Silver Springs, Maryland, Hoffnar graduated from Purchase Conservatory of Music in 1998 with a BFA in Composition that included private studies with Richard Cameron Wolf. Further private studies included time with such musical luminaries as Lamonte Young, Pandit Pran Nath, and Ernest Tubb’s steel player Buddy Charelton. He currently runs the “Liminal Sound Series” which is a live concert performance series dedicated to the commissioning of new works and collaborations between visionary composers and Austin, TX. based musicians and performers.Read more
Manipulating saxophones, flutes, guitar, bass, vibraphone, harp, and... atmospheric pedal steel, Coke and Michel sample catalogs of Leadbelly, Paul Motian, German abbess Hildegard von Bingen, and their own inventory to paint the tracks in grass green, sunset orange, and sky blue... reaching for the ethereal." --Michael Toland, Austin Chronicle
"They can drift with meditative beauty or roar with passion and their collective sound lingers in the memory. This is a unique and lovely album." --Jerome Wilson, All About Jazz
The Emissary is a unique album in many ways... It has a definite jazz foundation throughout encourag(ing) repeated listening. It has a calming and refreshing quality that invites listeners to discover a peaceful place within themselves. --Kyle Simpler, All About Jazz