Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Cookers - Warriors (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2010)

This is a veteran supergroup that puts their egos aside to create a very nice album of hard-bop and post bop modern jazz. Consisting of George Cables on piano, Billy Harper on tenor saxophone, Billy Hart on drums, Cecil McBee on bass, Eddie Henderson and David Weiss on trumpet and flugelhorn and Craig Handy on flute and alto saxophone, the band has a wealth of experience upon which to draw. Opening with "The Core" McBee and Hart establish a powerful and propulsive groove over which the horns riff and swirl. There is a fast trumpet solo with the other horns riffing encouragement and then a rippling fast piano solo. For a band named after the torrid live album Night of the Cookers, they establish a statement of purpose right at the start. Billy Harper is one of my all time favorite tenor saxophone players and two of his compositions are featured on this album. "Priestess" has a nice piano intro that sets the stage for the music as the horns enter with the fanfare melody. Harper breaks out on one of his extraordinary solo flights, his sound is huge and bold, swooping like a powerful eagle over the musical landscape. His lengthy solo is supported by riffing horns and a ripe trumpet interlude. Harper's great early composition "Capra Black" is also featured, with a brassy horn opening, protean and deep launching his powerful tenor into solo space against a frame of accompanying horns. Punchy trumpet glides into to keep the pace moving fast and true before the full band returns to take things out. The group shows their dynamic range by slowing things down on Cables' original "Spookarella" which opens at a lush mid-tempo and features nice melodic and dexterous flute from Craig Handy. Having the flute backed with majestic horns and full rhythm gives the music a nice sound reminiscent of a large ensemble. Another Cables composition, "Sweet Rita Suite 2: Her Soul," is a nice ballad again featuring horns and flute in a tight arrangement. Handy floats in a lyrical fashion supported by the horns and subtle rhythm section. This was a fine album is solid mainstream jazz played by a veteran ensemble. It's great to see these experienced musicians getting a chance to play with each other and create vital and interesting music. Warriors -

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