(Smoke Sessions Records)
The Cookers are old school – in the best sense: an acoustic band that has extra energy and whose music seems to leap from the speakers. Groups that are as exciting as this playing fairly straight-ahead hard bop are not an everyday find. And then The Cookers have all that back story – a group of veterans brought together by a younger acolyte. Gravitas they are not short of!
On the band’s fifth album the personnel is Eddie Henderson and David Weiss (trumpets), Donald Harrison (alto saxophone), Billy Harper (tenor saxophone), George Cables (piano), Cecil McBee (bass) and Billy Hart (drums).
Harper, Cables, McBee and Hart contribute tunes, and then run the range from full-on hurries to calmer, lay-backs. The title track opens things and over its 11-plus minutes most of the band gets a look in. Tenor man Harper always grabs my attention with his fluency and lovely tone, but the trumpets are on fire and the rhythm team has the suspension and ride of the finest classic limo. Cables is another tasty soloist – I love that repeating left-hand bass riff he throws in on Harper’s ballad If One Could Only See.
Other highlights include Cables’ Blackfoot which epitomises the strength and line of his compositions – they have the elegance of fine old furniture – and Harper’s Thy Will Be Done, which has a statuesque opening from its composer before erupting into a hubbub of righteous testifying from his bandmates, and ends up like a suite over its 12-and-a-half minutes.
- There are rare chances to see this band live at four English venues next month: Gateshead’s The Sage on 14 November, Manchester’s Band On The Wall on 15 November, Southampton’s Turner Sims on 16 November and at the London Jazz Festival on 17 November. There are other dates in Europe before and after the English visit.
- Find out more about The Cookers at their website which is HERE.
Categories: CD review