The record brims with pugnacious loquacity alternated with spiritual depth and inquisitive-minded playfulness, helped by the strange timbral juxtapositions of the ensemble. The instrumentalists know their chops inside and out but never for a moment the music sounds manufactured, getting its energy from the very interplay that these akin souls are able to continuously generate and aliment with what I'd call "devotional fantasy". - Massimo Ricci - Touching Extremes, May, 2007
Hey, great trio. The combination is really a good one for generating ideas and the gut guy can really play...
- Larry Ochs, ROVA Quartet
With rich strings and beautiful horns (including a heart-breaking solo by Michael Cooke on bassoon), it’s a masterpiece of orchestration and storytelling, the perfect finale to a wondrous musical eulogy.
- Frank Alkyer - Downbeat, June 2013
The San Francisco-based CKW Trio is an ambitious bunch who mix a variety of influences, both musical and cultural, and choose an unusual instrumental mix to make music that is very much in their own image.
- Jay Collins -One Final Note, 11 January 2005
The instrumental album was recorded earlier this year, and it has a truly unique sound. CKW Trio involves history, math, & science lessons — without lyrics — and would have made advanced theoretical physics tolerable in college!
- Risa Dotson -Eugene Weekly, Vol. 2004 No. 49, December 2004
In twelve finely honed compositions, the absence of strongly defined diatonic chord sequences yields improvisations of tremendous space and depth. Cooke's rare ability to think "outside the box" reminds us that Jazz, in its best incarnation, is the sound of surprise. To be sure, Cooke's horizontal, tonal-center based approach reflects the influence of Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, and other sonic innovators. However, these powerful forces have been internalized to the extent that Cooke sounds like no one else. All in all, this is an excellent session.
- James D. Armstrong, Jr., Editor, Music in Transition, Jazz Now October 2002
CKW clearly can go anywhere they like after this. Or they can go everywhere at once. Hard to book that trip on Amtrak, but it's doable. Try this; it's a humorous and accomplished journey into the not-too distant present. Music that, as the title says, simply 'is.' -Kenneth Egbert, Jazz Now February 2005
He presents each solo as a logical sequence of phrases rolling up into an integrated whole the flows as would a semi-swift current in a stream……Cooke is innovative stamping each selection with his own voice and personalized style that depicts the path but does not clone any of the related styles. His infusion of multiple layers of instrumentation and sonic variations keeps the music challenging while providing all the ingredients for a diversified and well-rounded expedition.
- Frank Rubolino, Cadence August 2002
Michael Cooke definitely has a lot to say and the multifarious talents to make you listen. If this CD doesn't get your attention, you are probably deaf. - Ted Kane, jazzreview.com September 2002
[The] multi-reed player and composer Michael Cooke leads a quintet with a highly unlikely instrumentation through seven original compositions that draw from a dizzyingly eclectic array of source materials... ethnic, classical, jazz, and free improv elements together in surprisingly cohesive fashion. -Dave Wayne, jazzreview.com Apirl 2007