Tuesday, September 30th, 8 p.m.| Kate Buchanan Room, HSU
"Pure, blaring, charging hard bop."
—Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times
"If you wondered what has happened to all the passion and intensity, once such essential ingredients of great swinging jazz...you'll find it all in The Cookers."
—Tony Hall, Jazzwise
“Player for player,” writes Andy Gilbert of the Boston Herald, “there’s no better working band in jazz than The Cookers.” Taking their name from the classic Blue Note album Night of the Cookers, recorded live in 1965 by Freddie Hubbard with the young lions of that era, The Cookers are the reigning supergroup of jazz—a “dream team,” as New York Times jazz critic Nate Chinen puts it, “of forward-leaning hard bop.”
Between them, the veterans who make up this group have played with just about every jazz legend of the last half-century: Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Horace Silver, Jackie McLean, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Lee Morgan, Dexter Gordon, Roy Haynes...and that’s only a partial list. But these all-stars are no “ghost band.” They play the sort of driving hard-bop that is the foundation of modern jazz, but their talent and experience generate new energy that extends rather than relives the tradition. “Rich with a mix of classic elegance and exploration,” writes Chris Barton in the Los Angeles Times, “the group might reference the past by name, but it never sounds less than current.”
As the son of a Mardi Gras Indian Big Chief, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, “The King of Nouveau Swing” and the newest member of the group, is steeped in the music and culture of his native New Orleans. In the 1980s he came to prominence as one of “young lions” in the front line of trumpeter Terrence Blanchard’s band, but he is also fluent in the languages of rock, soul, R&B, hip-hop, and New Orleans funk. Harrison was a consultant on the HBO series Treme, where (among other things) he appeared as himself in eleven episodes.
Houston-born Billy Harper grew up on gospel and blues before becoming the first African-American member of North Texas State’s renowned One O’Clock Band. There followed a long New York career in the frontline of the great bands of Gil Evans, Art Blakey and Max Roach, and Harper was a mainstay in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band before launching the legendary “Black Saint” label with his own album of the same name.
Originally from San Francisco, Dr. Eddie Henderson is a great representative of the electric-Miles era of jazz trumpet. After stints with John Handy and Joe Henderson (no relation), he served with the Herbie Hancock Sextet during Hancock’s jazz-funk-fusion heyday. A practicing psychiatrist, Henderson records frequently under his own name, though nowadays mostly in acoustic settings.
Art Pepper’s favorite pianist (“Mr. Beautiful,” Pepper called him), New York native George Cables has quietly exercised as much influence on contemporary jazz piano as a half-dozen other more prominent players you might name. Renowned for his delicate touch and his versatility, Cables spent much of the 70s on the West Coast in bands led by Pepper, Bobby Hutcherson and Dexter Gordon. The latest addition to his own lengthy discography is this year’s much praised Icons & Influences.
Heard too rarely as a leader, Cecil McBee’s ocean-deep bass set the mood for landmark albums by all the major figures of the 60s and 70s (save perhaps John Coltrane—though he has recorded with Alice and Ravi). A recently-surfaced Youtube video of the first great Charles Lloyd Quintet shows McBee laying down a groove behind the master with a very young Keith Jarrett.
Another member of Herbie Hancock’s “Mwandishi” sextet, Billy Hart also held down the drummer chair for McCoy Tyner and freelanced on Miles Davis’ fusion masterpiece On the Corner. For decades now he’s been one of the busiest sidemen in the business, and lately he’s found praise for helming a quartet comprising some of his younger admirers, saxophonist Mark Turner, pianist Ethan Iverson, and bassist Ben Street.
The Cookers are touring behind their fourth album, Time and Time Again, just out on the Motéma label. But it’s when you hear the band live that you’re bound to agree with Downbeat: these musicians are “some of the best composers, arrangers and musicians we have in jazz, and they’re working together in one of the most exciting super-groups we’ve seen in a long, long time. The arrangements…are outrageously wonderful. And the musicians just kill it on every tune. This is a group of the world’s best musicians who have nothing to prove to anyone, but they prove it all.”
Tickets ($15 General Admission, $10 Students & Seniors) are available here at our website and People's Records, Wildwood Music, Wildberries, and The Works.
The Cookers will also present a pre-concert workshop at 5:00 p.m. on the afternoon of September 30th in the Kate Buchanan Room. People of all levels of experience are welcome to attend, and admission is FREE.
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