Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Ellis, Lewis, Lee, L. Ochs India Cooke|
Genres: Jazz, Pop
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More please, Ms. Cooke!
greg taylor | Portland, Oregon United States | 06/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Because I tend to mostly review a certain type of contemporary jazz you would think I would be used to certain things. I should be used to the revelation of startling musicianship. I should be used to how people in modern improvisatory music tend to regard everything as open to question (such as the instrumentation). Therefore I should be used to seemingly odd juxtapositions revealing previously unheard sonorities of great beauty. I should be used to the fact that there is a worldwide community of musicians who listens to each other. A community full of people, some of whom are quite well known, whom are willing to serve the music of others much less known. I should also be used to how so much really great music simply gets absorbed in the overall din of commercial music. Like tears in rain, to quote a good movie.
So what am I talking about? Give this CD a listen for the object lesson.
This is a 1996 session led by India Cooke. Ms. Cooke is a classicaly trained violinist of superb technique who found her true calling upon hearing the great jazz violinist Michael White (go directly to John Handy's Live at the Monterey Festival CD). In the last few decades she has made her living as an educator (Mills College and the San Francisco Community Arts Center among other institutions),at onetime as a member of Sun Ra's Arkestra and she is currently persuing projects with Miya Masaoka and Pauline Oliveros among others.
The rest of the band is Larry Ochs (ROVA) on the tenor and sopranino sax, George Lewis on the trombone, Lisle Ellis on the bass, Donald Robinson on the drums and Lee(that is how (s)he is listed on the CD) on percussion.
The lack of a chordal instrument has an enormous effect on this music. The music is the lighter and the freer for it. There are three, frequently four (Ellis) lead voices. From that ever-shifting harmonic and melodic mass, individual voices or duets emerge and submerge. The percussion serves more to decorate or comment on what is going on rather than give it a definitive foundation.
There are many many delights on this album. Whether Ochs is playing the tenor or the sopranino changes the whole sound of the group. On sopranino, he becomes a natural partner for Cooke's violin. On tenor, he forms a mini horn section with Lewis' trombone. And Ochs seems to have a different concept of how to play the two horns. He uses much less vibrato on the sopranino, letting that wonderful snake with a cold sound (that's always what I think of when trying to explain it) stand on its own. On tenor, he goes for more of an Ayler approach with a broad vibrato and a passionate, declamatory style. A preacher.
Lewis is his usual wonderful self. Along with Wolter Wierbos, he is probably the preeminent trombonist on the planet. He can play anything on the horn even at very soft volumes. He serves as a chorus on the CD making sly asides and supporting statements of what the others are doing. And he obviously loves Ms. Cooke's compositions. When he solos on music he loves, Lewis romps like a child delighted to be let outside to play. And he is doing some serious playing on this CD pun intended.
I wish I could praise the sound of Ms. Cooke's violin adequately. I was raised listening to Milstein, to Heifetz, to Perlman and Kriesler. Ms. Cooke starts off this CD with a long tone followed be a sort solo statement leading into Ala's Wing. Her tone is the first promise of what is to come. Everytime she emerges from the group, it is simply breathtaking. I can't wait to play this for my father. And she is a soloist of the first rank.
As far as I can tell from the web sites devoted to India Cooke this is her only recording under her own name. She does appear on a Circle Trio CD (my next purchase) with Pauline Oliveros and Karolyn Van Putten and she has appeared on some Miya Masaoka CDs. It is astounding to me that someone can produce music like this and not have other CDs follow.
But then I guess I should be used to the way genius, creativity and talent are now valued (or not valued). This CD can be found. If you can't find it, write me, and I will make suggestions as to where to find it on the web. If you live in the Bay Area, go listen to her play. And tell her to get back in the studio. I don't care what project. I just want to hear that violin sound some more."