Half Notes: The Cookers – Believe (2012)

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photo: Credit: Vincent Soyez

Jazz supergroups come and go but with a new album looming for the third year in a row, The Cookers have signalled they are serious as a long term cooperative. They could be egged on by the acclaim heaped on their second effort, last years’ Cast The First Stone, but guys like Cecil McBee, Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, Billy Hart and George Cables are used to that. Craig Handy and David Weiss come from a later generation, but they have nothing to prove, either. For their third album Believe, Harper, McBee, Cables and Hart each contribute at least one of their old compositions, and yet another song from Art Blakey’s Free For All is covered. Their take on that album’s title song is a valiant try but doesn’t quite measure up to the intensity of the powerful original. The Cookers are more successful on this album when they simmer with some more nuanced tunes like Cables’ “Ebony Moonbeams,” (video below) which presents the group at their finest. Harper’s “Quest” features a nice arrangement that takes advantage of all four horns in the band.

As with the other two Cookers record, Believe is about a bunch of seasoned pros playing in their comfort zone, and as keepers of the Jazz Messengers’ flame, they’re not out to innovate. But are these cats playing dynamic, vital jazz at a high level? You’d better believe they are.

Believe will be served beginning June 12, by Motéma Music.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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