Charlie Gurke is a Bay Area based saxophonist, composer, and educator. In addition to leading various incarnations of his Gurkestra, Charlie is a member of the John Santos Sextet, The Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, Edgardo Cambon’s groups Candela and Latido. An active freelancer, Charlie regularly performs and records with collaborators in a variety of genres. Recent performances of note include the 2018 and 2019 Monterey Jazz Festivals (with John Santos and the Electric Squeezebox Orchestra, respectively), and the 2019 Montreux Jazz Festival (with the Grammy winning Pacific Mambo Orchestra).
Since 2010 Charlie has been composer and music director for We Players theatre company, composing scores for nearly all their productions and receiving Theatre Bay Area awards for his scores for Macbeth (2014) and Caesar Maximus (2018).
Charlie is currently on the faculty at Laney Community college in Oakland where he leads the Jazz Orchestra, Jazz Combos, and teaches music theory. Charlie is also part of the faculty of the Community Music Center in San Francisco, where he teaches Jazz Ensembles and is part of the faculty for the Mission District Young Musician’s Program.
A native of the Bay Area, Charlie attended the San Francisco School of the Arts (SOTA), where he studied with Wayne Wallace and Melecio Magdaluyo, among others. After high school Charlie moved to New York and attended the New School's Jazz and Contemporary Music program, studying with legendary saxophonists Billy Harper and George Garzone. Charlie holds a bachelor's degree in music with an emphasis on composition from California State University East Bay (aka Cal State Hayward), and a master's degree in jazz studies from the University of Oregon.