Czech-Ease Artists : Chris Wood

Chris was born in PASADENA California where he lived with his parents BILL and RENATTE WOOD (he a micro biologist at Cal Tech, she a poet/writer) and his older brother OLIVER.Wwhen Chris was six years old, the family moved to BOULDER colorado where his father accepted a job teaching at C.U. the move to the mountains was a smooth one for chris and he enjoyed the rocky mountain way of life, doing "normal kid stuff" - excelling at art and drawing, playing tennis (very well) and enjoying summers in ASPEN (pre-yuppy aspen) with his family where they would camp and be natural. Like billy and john, chris' family played a key role in exposing him to music and also like his MMW partners, it was his father that had the experience. BILL WOOD was always playing guitar and singing folk tunes around the house. a student of harvard in the late 50's, bill was heavily influenced by the burgeoning folk scene of that period and played and recorded with many of the pioneers in the genre (you can still see bill's face on the cover of a booklet included in a JOAN BAEZ box set). keeping chris' influences current was his brother OLIVER who turned him onto sixties rock like the DOORS, HENDRIX, the WHO and the BEATLES. oliver had followed his father's footsteps as a guitar player and in that spirit, got an electric bass for christmas one year. while Chris was in 7th grade his brother switched to the electric guitar leaving the bass behind. chris picked up the leftovers and began his journey. Chris had always dabbled in music up to that point - taking piano lessons, playing the clarinet and in the school orchestra - but the bass was the place where it all really began. at first, he was just jamming with oliver who had a strong penchant for the blues turning his younger brother on to LIGHTNING HOPKINS, JOHN LEE HOOKER, and JIMMY REED. while still in junior high, chris formed his first band, the CHANGE, which specialized in original rock tunes. but it was lessons with a young talented bass player ROB KASSINGER (now a great classical player) that hipped chris to jazz and witnessed the switch to acoustic bass - a true turning point in his career. kassinger's influence left chris with a newfound appreciation for the likes of CHARLES MINGUS, PAUL CHAMBERS, RAY BROWN, JACO, and MARCUS MILLER and later inspired him to join the BOULDER HIGH jazz band under the direction of JEFFJACOBSEN. Wood's days in high school centered around his music and, like john and billy, focused on little else. it seems that there was a turning point (also like john and billy before him) where everything somehow changed. chris attributes this to both his love of music and a sincere desire to excel at something, anything. it was the right place and the right time. after school he was typically practicing for hours on end or playing live with various collectives. an unusual source of education came via MST ENTERTAINMENT - a musicians service, of sorts, that would mix and match professional musicians, throwing together bands for weddings and corporate events. the company had a HUGE song book that included country, pop, ethnic and jazz standards. MST would call, chris would throw on his tux, and show up at random places to jam with random musicians (many of them much older and more experienced) at random times... providing chris with fantastic practical experience. Upon graduating from high school, chris took a year off to practice, teach, and grow. he always assumed that he would live the life of a true musician and always planned on moving east to pursue that goal. music school seemed like a great catalyst for this transition. in 1989, with a friend, who had studied at BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC, as inspiration and DAVE HOLLAND teaching at the NEW ENGLAND CONSERVATORY, chris moved to BOSTON and enrolled at NEC - a short lived experiment that lasted for one full semester. by year two, chris had dropped out of classes completely and was only hanging in for the private lessons with teachers like DAVE HOLLAND, GERI ALLEN, BOB MOSES, GEORGE GARZONE, and JERRY BERGOONZI. he also had the opportunity to gig with the area's top jazz talents (including JOHN MEDESKI at a "weird" gig somewhere) but, in the end, chris did not like school, he did not relate to boston and the whole scene that surrounded it. a summer in NYC was all he needed (after his first year of school) to cement his feelings....he was movin' on up - like the jeffersons. After two years in boston and at NEC, chris moved to NYC full time and quickly fell into the downtown music scene, recording and playing with the likes of MARC RIBOT, JOHN ZORN, the JAZZ PASSENGERS and ELLIOT SHARP. later that year he started doing duo gigs with john at manhattan's VILLAGE GATE (chris and john had grown close after touring israel together the year before). sometimes the duo gigs would be a trio and they would invite a drummer (at first it was GENE CALDORAZO) and when they decided to try a new drummer named BILLY MARTIN (both john and chris knew of billy through the fabled bob moses) john suggested that they rehearse first... and billy invited them both down to his loft... it was the summer of 1991