Comprised of David Harrington on first violin, John Sherba on second violin, Hank Dutt on viola, and Joan Jeanrenaud on cello, The Kronos Quartet was formed in San Francisco in 1973; though all four members were classically trained, they quickly dispensed with the rigid formalities of their craft, performing their chamber music with all of the impassioned energy commonly associated with rock - even their casual dress flew in the face of the classical establishment. Although Kronos began recording during the late '70s, they began attracting widespread notice during the middle of the following decade as a result of recordings like 1984's Monk Suite (a collection of classical performances of compositions by Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington) and their 1986 eponymous Nonesuch label debut, which raised many eyebrows via its string quartet cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze."
In the years to follow, the quartet remained uniquely eclectic and unpredictable, commissioning pieces from modern composers like Philip Glass and John Zorn, performing the works of tango innovator Astor Piazzolla and free jazz visionary Ornette Coleman, and exploring world music (1992's Pieces of Africa exclusively featured music native to the African continent), remaining several paces ahead of their contemporaries at all times. Joan Jeanrenaud left The Kronos Quartet in 1999; she was replaced by cellist Jennifer Culp. ~ Greg Prato, All Music Guide