Friday, December 07, 2012

The Cookers - NYC Jazz Record

The Cookers - Believe

The liner notes to the newest release from The Cookers
refers to pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee,
drummer Billy Hart, saxophonist Billy Harper and
trumpeter Eddie Henderson as “damn near jazz
royalty”. How modest. These men are kings though
and what is so refreshing about this album (their third
release as a unit) is how they play with the force of
musicians nearly half their age.

As a sort-of hardbop Expendables, this septet has
the grizzled life experience to imbue any tune with a
meaty sense of swing. The group is rounded out by a
couple action stars in their own right but with a little
less grey. Trumpeter David Weiss brought the group
together while alto saxist Craig Handy lends a little
fire and mid-range honk.

The album, except for a brisk and faithful reading
of Wayne Shorter’s Messengers-era “Free For All”, is
entirely penned by the band. Harper contributes two
tunes, including the dense album opener “Believe, For
It Is True”. The four horns swing a breathless line as
Cables pulses with a Hancock-esque mid ‘60s nautical
vibe. Cables also provides a pair of originals including
“Ebony Moonbeams”. Not to be left out, McBee
provides two of his own lines; “Tight Squeeze” is a
brisk, off-kilter tune that gives Hart a nice chance to
shine. The band goes out with Hart’s lone contribution,
“Naaj”, as an upbeat jaunt that best embodies the
band’s name.

The final product is a comforting slice of hardbop
that delivers on its expectations. This isn’t just a
blowing session but a working band with a great book
of original tunes. These men have formed a solid
ensemble, which provides a lot of space for solo voices,
all who make the most of it.

The Cookers @ NYC Jazz Record

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