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Four Classic Albums





Bob Cooper

  1. Group Activity

  2. Excursion

  3. Polka Dots And Moonbeams

  4. The Way You Look Tonight

  5. Solo Plight

  6. Lisbon Lady

  7. When The Sun Comes Out

  8. She Didn't Say Yes

    Bob Cooper, Bud Shank - Saxophones

    Howard Roberts - Guitar (tracks 1-4)

    Joe Mondragon - Bass (tracks 5-8)

    Shelly Manne - Drums (tracks 5-8)

    Claude Williamson - Piano

    Curtis Counce - Bass

    Stan Levey - Drums

    Bob Cooper - Shifting Winds

  1. It's De-Lovely

  2. Strike Up The Band

  3. 'Round Midnight

  4. Hot Boy

  5. Deep In A Dream

  6. Hallelujah

  7. Tongue Twister

  8. All Or Nothing At All

  9. Sunset

  10. Drawing Lines

  11. It Don't Mean A Thing (If It 'Aint Got That Swing)

    Bob Cooper - Tenor sax, oboe, English horn

    Bud Shank - Alto sax, tenor sax, flute

    Jimmy Giuffre - Tenor sax, baritone sax, clarinet

    Bob Enevoldsen - Trombone, tenor sax, bass clarinet

    Stu Williamson - Trumpet, trombone (tracks 9, 11, 13-16, 18)

    John Graas - French horn (tracks 9, 13, 14, 18)

    Claude Williamson - Piano (tracks 10, 12,17, 19)

    Joe Mondragon - Bass (tracks 10,12,17,19)

    Max Bennett - Bass (tracks 11, 15, 16)

    Ralph Peña - Bass (tracks 9, 11, 13-16, 18)

    Shelly Manne - Drums (tracks 10, 12, 17, 19)

    Stan Levey – Drums


    Bud Shank And Bob Cooper – Flute 'N Oboe

  1. They Didn't Believe Me

  2. Gypsy In My Soul

  3. In The Blue Of The Evening

  4. I Want To Be Happy

  5. Tequila Time

  6. I Can't Get Started

  7. Blues For Delilah

  8. Sunset And Vine

  9. What'll I Do

    Bob Cooper - Arranger, conductor, oboe

    Bud Shank - Flute

    Ray Kramer - Cello

    Milt Thomas - Viola

    Ben Gill, Eudice Shapiro - Violin

    Howard Roberts - Guitar

    Don Prell - Bass

    Chuck Flores – Drums

    Coop! The Music Of Bob Cooper

    Jazz Theme And Four Variations:

  1. Main Theme - Sunday Mood

  2. Variation 1 - A Blue Period

  3. Variation 2 - Happy Changes

  4. Variation 3 - Night Stroll

  5. Variation 4 - Saturday Dance

  6. Confirmation

  7. Easy Living

  8. Frankie And Johnny

  9. Day Dream

  10. Somebody Loves Me

Bob Cooper - Tenor sax

Conte Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Pete Candoli - Trumpet

Frank Rosolino, Johnny Halliburton - Trombone

Lou Levy - Piano

Victor Feldman - Vibraphone

Max Bennett - Bass

Mel Lewis - Drums

Bob Cooper was part of the West Coast jazz scene of the 1950s in the United States. The tenor sax was his main instrument but he also played the oboe and was an arranger and composer of some significance. A Stan Kenton sideman for about six years after the Second World War, he married June Christy, the band's vocalist, and subsequently not only accompanied her on recordings but toured with her on trips to Europe, Africa and Japan. He was associated with Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All Stars for a number of years and formed a regular partnership with alto and flute player Bud Shank on recordings such as those on three of these albums. In my view, the duo excelled particularly on their Jazz At Cal-Tech release of 1956. Cooper worked often as a freelance musician and with studio orchestras in Los Angeles. By all accounts a popular figure with his contemporaries, the Lester Young influence was apparent in his playing (though he could also blow fiercely when the occasion demanded).

The opening album in this batch features Cooper's sextet and, to my mind, illustrates both the strengths and weaknesses of much West Coast music of the era. The strengths include a high degree of cohesion between the musicians. The primary weakness would be the formulaic nature of the arrangements. There are notable exceptions. A minor standard, Polka Dots And Moonbeams, is nicely played, especially by Shank on alto, Howard Roberts on guitar and a sinuous Cooper on tenor. A Harold Arlen composition, the ballad When The Sun Comes Out, is given a relaxed interpretation by that stylish pianist, Claude Williamson. The album Shifting Winds is the second sample of Cooper's work, this time with a larger group, five of whom, Cooper and Shank, Jimmy Giuffre, Bob Enevoldsen and Stu Williamson, were highly versatile musicians. Cooper contributed all the arrangements and four of the tunes. It's pleasant listening but unremarkable, given the assembled talent. However, on It Don't Mean A Thing (If It 'Aint Got That Swing), the ensemble do seem to have taken to heart the message of this Ellington piece. Joe Mondragon on bass deserves particular mention. By the way, there is a pianist present on several tracks but not credited in the liner notes. Possibly, it was Claude Williamson who is listed for five of the numbers and may have been there for them all.

On the Flute 'N Oboe recording Cooper and Shank team up with a rhythm section and a string section to produce a low-key offering. For me, it falls in the easy listening category. If it's possible to have an excess of good taste then, for instance, In The Blue Of The Evening has precisely that problem. I Can't Get Started is in a different league, though, with Bud Shank delivering a dreamy then nimble solo on flute. Blues For Delilah, a Cooper original, again finds a ducking and weaving performance from Shank which, once more, is excellent. I liked overall the expressive Howard Roberts who is a plus factor on two of the albums on these CDs. With Coop! The Music Of Bob Cooper, it can be argued that the compilers have saved the best until last. Here are a group of musicians, all of whom know how to swing. Cooper is on tenor sax, always his strongest suit, and makes a notable impact with his composition, Jazz Theme And Four Variations. There is some sterling solo work from Frank Rosolino on trombone, Cooper himself, Don Fagerquist and Conte Candoli on trumpet and the irrepressible Lou Levy on piano. I relished the presence of the masterly Victor Feldman on vibes who showed his quality throughout the entire album There isn't a weak track on this album but three especially impressed me. From Jazz Theme And Four Variations, Main Theme - Sunday Mood has Feldman, Rosolino and Cooper all going through their paces in absorbing fashion. Equally pleasurable is Variation 2 - Happy Changes where Cooper sounds fetchingly Getz-like and the brass section are on top form. Easy Living features a stylish interpretation of this fine tune by Cooper, ably aided and abetted by Rosolino and Feldman.

Despite the uneven quality of the first three of the albums in this collection, Coop - The Music Of Bob Cooper alone makes it worthy of consideration (and purchase!).

James Poore

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