Mike Johnston (double bass, inanga, sho, shakuhachi, wood flutes, african bells, shenhai): Born in 1955. Lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Founding member of The Northwoods collective. Contributing writer for Coda publications 1982-1999. Teaches college course at various colleges in jazz history, African and Asian musics. MFA degree in Photography/Art from Central Michigan University. Does a public radio show "Destination Out" on CMU Public radio featuring creative jazz and world music. Mike Gilmore (vibraphone, cheng, saz, bone guitar, kalimba, bowed percussion, steel drums, marimba): Born in 1958. Lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Founding member of The Northwoods collective. Began playing guitar at the age of 5. Began studying jazz improvisation and east-Indian music in 1976, shortly thereafter African, Middle and Far Eastern musics. Formal piano studies in 1976, classical guitar studies in 1979. Mike Khoury (violin, percussion): Born in 1969. Lives in Livonia, Michigan. Currently studies violin at the Art Center Music School with composer/violinist David Litven. Runs Entropy Stereo Recordings, a free improvisation music label. Khoury has performed/recorded with steady figures of improvised music like Luc Houtkamp, John Butcher, Gino Robair as well as The Northwoods Improvisers and Faruq Z. Bey. Kirk Lucas (violoncello, guitar, banjo, zither, tamboura, gong, kalimba): Born in 1959. Lives in Millbrook, Michigan. Has performed with The Northwoods Improvisers and is involved in many recordings with them. Lately he has been working as more of a visual artist, experimenting with improvised three-dimensional collage and sculpture.
The Northwoods Improvisers ensemble was founded by Mike Johnston and Mike Gilmore in 1976. Early versions of the band played improvised electroacoustic music. Around 1980 the ensemble switched to an all-acoustic instrumentation which has remained to this day. Drummer Nick Ashton joined Northwoods in 1986. With The Northwoods Improvisers, Johnston and Gilmore have performed with acknowledged improvisers like Peter Kowald, GŁnter Sommer and Floros Floridis among others. In 2000, the group began collaboration with Detroit saxophonist Faruq Z. Bey. Mike Carey, a long time Bey collaborator joined the ensemble in 2002.