The Cookers, the veteran jazz supergroup that The New York Times calls "a dream team of forward-leaning hard-bop," returns with its fifth and most exhilarating album to date, The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart.
After nine years together, The Cookers have evolved from a summit of
swinging road warriors to become simply one of the most burning and
hardest-hitting bands on the scene.
"At this point, we've gelled as a band with an original voice, so the goal is just to be that much stronger each time out," says David Weiss,
the next-generation trumpeter that assembled this gathering of elders.
"The band itself should be the story at this point, I hope, but I think
this album shows off a much stronger spiritual side of the group then
previous efforts. I don't know if that's what happens when such great
musicians who share this common bond spend so much time together, or
maybe it's just that some of the material we chose for this album
conveys this spirit so well, but it's certainly there and is quite
The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart, due out September 9, marks The Cookers' debut on Smoke Sessions Records and is the follow up to their critically acclaimed release Time and Time Again
which was the iTunes' Jazz Album of the Year in 2014. Once again, the
core of the band consists of five legendary, long-undersung musicians
whose credentials read like a who's-who of classic-era jazz: tenor saxophonist Billy Harper
was a member of groups led by Lee Morgan and Max Roach and served a
two-year stint with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers; trumpeter Eddie Henderson and drummer Billy Hart were both part of Herbie Hancock's electrifying Mwandishi ensemble; pianist George Cables played alongside Dexter Gordon and Art Pepper; and bassist Cecil McBee
anchored Charles Lloyd's famed 1960s quartet with Keith Jarrett and
Jack DeJohnette. They're joined by torchbearers Weiss and, in his second
outing with the band, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison.
The new album's title comes from Harper's opening track, originally recorded for the saxophonist's 1975 album Black Saint.
The "wild and peaceful heart" was meant to refer to the dueling
passions to be found in the soul of the composer himself, but applies
equally well to this ensemble, whose repertoire can range from the
tempestuous force of Hart's "Oceans of Time" to the wistful soul of
McBee's "Third Phase." As Harper puts it, "The group is set up in such a
way that there's a balance of hard drive and cool expressions."
balance can be nimbly struck in the space of a single composition, as
on Harper's album-closing "Thy Will Be Done." The piece begins in the
mood of latter-day Coltrane's spiritually seeking excursions, eventually
settling into a becalmed but vigorous groove that Harper refers to as
"a swinging prayer." Like all three of Harper's contributions to the
album, the song features a new arrangement by the composer.
unique septet, Harper says, "lends itself to a wider range of colors.
It's like having the palette of a big band that drives and cooks like a
always, the album's repertoire is plumbed from the members' vast
discographies, a bevy of riches that Weiss says continues to yield
surprises. After exhausting what he calls "David's fantasy list" of the
group's compositions on The Cookers' first two albums, he's consistently
discovered new favorites, embellished by the band's growing
camaraderie. "I always think, 'How did I miss this last time?' But as
the band grows and I realize more and more what they're capable of,
certain tunes speak to me differently the next time through. I think
this is our strongest record and top to bottom the strongest collection
of tunes that we've done."
Following the urgent momentum of Harper's title tune comes the sharp, soulful swagger of Cables' "Beyond Forever" from his 1994 date of the same name, which first appeared on Eddie Henderson's 1977 release Comin' Through.
The album's sole debut recording is McBee's "Third Phase," which begins
with the pianist in a contemplative mood before the horns enter to sing
the memorable melody. Hart previously recorded the abstract, dark-hued
"Teule's Redemption" with his own quartet on his 2014 ECM release One Is the Other, and the song's Ornette-inspired jaggedness is only bolstered by The Cookers' four-horn frontline.
he's known for his hard-driving approach, Harper contributes the
album's most tender moment with his ballad "If One Could Only See,"
inspired by a dream in which a hand reached down from heaven and handed
him a cassette tape containing the song's wounded but steely melody.
Native American influences are obvious in Cables' "Blackfoot," culled
from his 1993 SteepleChase debut I Mean You, while Hart's "Oceans of Time" was the title track of his 1997 release.
guys should all be considered giants on their own," Weiss insists. "The
idea of The Cookers is to bring them to greater prominence, and a big
part of that is this incredible legacy of compositions."
Cookers is unique in the modern jazz landscape, a band that benefits
from more than four decades of rapport and shared experiences, as well
as first-hand knowledge of the seismic shifts in the music that younger
musicians only know through records and stories. "They all come out of
basically the same era," Weiss says. "They all saw the same things, they
were all blown away by seeing John Coltrane in 1965 - they were all
part of something bigger than us. They were right there when some
groundbreaking stuff happened, and they still approach the music that
"The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart" was recorded live in New York at
Sear Sound's Studio C
on a Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit
and mixed to ½" analog tape
using a Studer mastering deck.
Available in audiophile HD format.
The Cookers' Upcoming Performances
September 13-17 | Birdland | New York, NY
October 15 | Angrajazz | Terceira Island, Portugal
October 18 | Night Town | Cleveland, OH
October 19 | Jazz Kitchen | Indianapolis, IN
October 20 | Constellation | Chicago, IL
October 21 | Musical Instrument Museum | Phoenix, AR
October 22 | Yoshi's | Oakland, CA
October 23 | (venue tbd) | Los Angeles, CA
October 24 | Kuumbwa | Santa Cruz, CA
October 25-26 | Jazz Alley | Seattle, WA
November 5 | Bologna Jazz Festival | Bologna, Italy
November 7 | Music Academy Chamber | Zagreb,Croatia
November 8 | Reigen | Vienna, Austria
November 11 | Szeged Jazz Days | Szegedy, Hungary
November 12 | Moncalieri Jazz Festival | Moncalieri, Italy
November 13 | The Sage | Gateshead, United Kingdom
November 15 | Band on the Wall | Manchester, United Kingdom
November 16 | Turner Sims | Southhampton, United Kingdom
November 17 | London Jazz Festival | London, United Kingdom
November 18 | Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld | Cologne, Germany
November 23 | La Usina del art | Buenos Aires, Argentina
November 25 | Teatro Municipal Bahia | Blanca, Argentina
The Cookers · The Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart