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The Cookers: Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart

The Cookers album cover

What happens when jazz minds come together from time spent with Art Blakey, Max Roach, Charles Lloyd, Herbie Hancock and Lee Morgan, in addition to all being masters of their instruments?

Answer: The Cookers, a band Nate Chinen of the New York Times called "a dream team of forward leaning hard bop!"

Trumpeters Eddie Henderson and David Weiss (who formed the band for a Lee Morgan / Freddie Hubbard "Night of the Cookers" salute) create both power and peace, wth saxophonists Billy Harper and Donald Harrison, pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart.

But the really cool thing? It's no a dream at all, but a collective of musicians all at their creative peak.

 "The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart", the band's 5th recording,

 has what saxophonist Harrison calls "texture" in Hank Shteamer's liner notes.

The title track, written by Harper, shares a spiritual soar between the saxophonist, trumpeter Weiss and pianist Cables.

That texture can take a minute. Cables' "Beyond Forever" first had Henderson's attention on his 1977 "Comin' Through" release. Harrison's alto fits well.

Gorgeous is the feel of Cecil McBee's "Third Phase", with space for Harrison and Henderson to explore.

When I asked Donald Harrison what is was like when he first became a Cooker, he replied, " Damn....Billy Hart.....EVERY NIGHT BILLY HART. You'll understand on the drummer's contributions throughout and his two compositions heard here.

Listen to this record. We are lucky these musical spirits are here, and like each other enough to be so much more than a jazz answer to an NBA all-star team...not nearly as much texture there as we get here.

"The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart" comes out September 9th from Smoke Sessions.

The band celebrates with performances 9/13 through 9/17 at Birdland in New York.

Gary Walker / Morning Jazz







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