Jun 13, 2012
My favorite “super group”, The Cookers, is back with Believe, their third recording in as many years. This septet, which is composed of a group of musicians who are all leaders in their own right, includes Billy Harper (tenor sax), Craig Handy (alto sax), Dr. Eddie Henderson (trumpet), David Weiss (trumpet), George Cables (piano), Cecil McBee (bass), and Billy Hart (drums). Besides their history as members of seminal jazz groups like Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and Herbie Hancock’s Mwandashi band, each has produced, and continues to produce, outstanding music under their own names.
So when they get together, under David Weiss’ direction, it makes for special music. And what makes Believe all the better is the decision to include only music written by band members. These are no rehashes of standards caught in a friendly blowing session – these are either previously unrecorded compositions (McBee’s “Temptation(s)”) or tunes recorded with previous bands. Particularly noteworthy is their version of Cables’ “Ebony Moonbeams”, which Freddie Hubbard had recorded so brilliantly on his High Energy album almost forty years ago. The tune is set with lovely ensemble playing, and then Cables sets out on a number of leisurely but scintillating piano solo, accented alternatively by Hart’s drums or McBee’s bass. Handy lends a notable solo as well.
If you wonder if they have earned the right to call themselves “The Cookers”, look no further than the CD’s longest track, a cover of Wayne Shorter’s “Free for All.” Dating back to Shorter’s days with the Jazz Messengers – and a particular favorite of Weiss’ – this track gives the group a chance to really stretch out. Henderson and Harper lay down some particularly hot solos, and Hart makes sure every beat of his drum solo is on the mark.
They are on a national tour during the month of June, so be sure to try to catch “the Magnificent Seven” if you get a chance. Hey, maybe that’s the title for their next CD!