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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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THE COOKERS

Time and Time Again

Motema Music 233883

 

 

1. Sir Galahad

2. Reneda

3. Slippin' and Slidin'

4. Double or Nothing

5. Farewell Mulgrew

6. Three Fall

7. Time and Time Again

8. Dance of the Invisible Nymph

9. Dance Eternal Spirits Dance

Billy Harper - Tenor sax

Eddie Henderson - Trumpet

David Weiss - Trumpet

Donald Harrison - Alto sax

George Cables - Piano

Cecil McBee - Bass

Billy Hart - Drums

This latest CD from the jazz super-group, The Cookers, has just been voted ITunes Jazz Album of the Year - and it's evident from the very first few bars of the opening track just why it has received this accolade. It's an all-star collection of veterans formed some seven years ago by trumpeter David Weiss - at 50, the youngest member - and it plays powerful hard bop, reminiscent of the very best Blue Note line-ups of thirty or more years ago, with a contemporary sharpness. Five of its seven members contribute compositions that highlight the band's high-class harmonic and rhythmic skills but leave space for freewheeling solos.

Sir Galahad was a Great Dane that once belonged to Billy Harper who pays tribute to his canine friend with an irresistibly bubbling solo that somehow manages to combine the influence of both Coleman Hawkins and John Coltrane. At 71, Harper is playing better than ever. Former Jazz Messenger Harrison adds the first of several emotive alto solos.

Veteran bassist McBee, at 79 the senior member of the band and one-third of a rhythm section that makes a nonsense of its collective 223 years, is the composer of a loping blues, Slippin' and Slidin', which features a sonorous bass solo from McBee himself and a bright, fluent trumpet solo by the excellent Eddie Henderson. George Cables contributes an attractive ballad, Farewell Mulgrew, in tribute to fellow pianist, the late Mulgrew Miller.

Three Fall is Weiss's only tune, and it's a good one that uses the full power of the front line and provides Harper with the framework for another sparkling solo. Dance of the Invisible Nymph has a tricky time-signature (regrettably, there are no sleeve-notes to aid identification) but Henderson, Harrison and Cables find it conducive to inventive soloing.

There isn't a dud track and there's a compelling sense that these seven fine musicians are having a lot of fun. Veterans they may be - apart from the almost youthful Weiss - but their musicianship is bursting with vigour.

I would hazard a guess that this is likely to be on many jazz fans' list of favourite CDs of 2015.

George Stacy



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