Artist: The Cookers
Album: Time And Time Again
01. Sir Galahad
03. Slippin’ and Slidin’
04. Double or Nothing
05. Farewell Mulgrew
06. Three Fall
07. Time and Time Again
08. Dance of the Invisible Nymph
09. Dance Eternal Spirits Dance
Celebrating seven years together, Time and Time Again is the fourth release by The Cookers since the group’s recording debut, Warriors (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2010). The band’s all-star lineup, who first rose to prominence in the late ’60s and early ’70s, was initially formed by trumpet player David Weiss, who also serves as musical director. In addition to Weiss, the septet features the muscular frontline of trumpeter Eddie Henderson, tenor saxophonist Billy Harper and alto saxophonist Donald Harrison (replacing Craig Handy), with pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Billy Hart manning the blue chip rhythm section.
Drawing upon their varied experiences, the ensemble members split writing duties, effectively summarizing the entire spectrum of the jazz continuum in the process. Although hard bop-influenced post-bop is the unit’s forte, most of these musicians have also worked in cutting-edge avant-garde settings; their forward-looking tendencies imbue the project’s straight-ahead sensibility with a bold, modernistic aesthetic.
With five of the seven members contributing tunes to the session, there is ample stylistic diversity on display, ranging from breakneck swingers (“Double or Nothing”) and swaggering blues (“Slippin’ and Slidin'”) to majestic waltzes (“Three Fall”) and opulent ballads (“Farewell Mulgrew”). As seasoned veterans, their spirited performances convey the informality of an old school blowing session, tempered by an awareness of formalized song-craft. The arrangements are rhythmically tight and harmonically sophisticated, but supple enough to demonstrate the band’s freewheeling rapport, with ample room for each member to shine.
Working as a true collective, no one player dominates the session, although Harper’s commanding tone and assured phrasing lifts the bandstand when he takes center stage, with quicksilver cadences underscored by the nimble rhythm section, whose fluid interplay is a marvel of triadic interaction. Lending credence to its title, Time And Time Again expertly conveys the palpable commitment of these elder statesmen to push beyond preconceived boundaries and move the music forward, while acknowledging the innovations of the past.