JAZZ LEGENDS BAND THE COOKERS POURS ON HARD BOP LEGACY


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Posted by Robert J. Carmack & photos by George Jeffries & Robert Hill

Recently in Los Angeles on a stormy Friday night the heavens opened up due to The Cookers Band performing at the Nate Holden Center for the Arts. A truly rare Los Angeles appearance by 7 legendary Jazz Band, that included Tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, Trumpeter David Weiss, Bassist Cecil McBee, Trumpeter Dr. Eddie Henderson, Alto Saxophonist Donald Harrison, Veteran Drummer Billy “Jabali” Hart, and substituting for pianist George Cables was Journeyman, Stephen Scott on Piano. Once the audience settled in their seats, the group wasted no time taking us on a blissful journey.

Most tunes were expansive in content as far as improvisations, yet melodically pleasing on all fronts, whether they were “blistering” tempos in odd meters, or alternating 3/4 to 4/4. 

stephen-scott-don-weiss-cookers-concert-laOne could only have wished for being back in time via Time machine. Hard Bop was the call of the day and the prince of night in the New York haunts and all over the east coast hot spots during the 50s and 60s .

Billy Hart with jazz journalist Robert J. Carmack

 

 

 

 

 

 

This particular Friday night was unusual as it was raining very hard(Stormy Weather) and my getting to witness one of the last of the true Hard Bop bands ever assembled since the Jazz Messengers. cecil-mcbee-cookers-concertHanging out in LA is not like it use to be when I was a young pup. Hitting the spots that reeked of Jazz on a 7 nights a week basis, primarily from mid 60s up to the end of the 70s. By then, L.A. was hardly a Mecca for jazz musicians as a new form of music was dominating the radios and car tape players and later CDs.

One of the special treats for me was seeing Billy Harper play that big “Texas Tenor” approach to jazz and his very spiritual compositions in rather odd meters. I had not seen this group since I moved back to Los Angeles from the San Francisco bay area in 2009. They were frequent visitors on the circuit of clubs, festivals and wineries in northern California. I took full advantage of the presentations. A remarkable bassist, Cecil McBee was on this trip and a very good conversationalist, we spoke about jazz in general and his old days with Charles Lloyd. His resume is over flowing with a virtual who’s who in Jazz.

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Missing from the lineup was in my opinion one of the most under-rated Jazz pianist since John Hicks and Bobby Timmons, George Cables, who was still in rehab from health challenges. Incidentally, The Cookers group chose another young man who has been “putting-in” his work. Steady on the scene “quiet as kept”, Mr. Stephen Scott. He filled in admirably and commendable with those blistering solos on classics like the jazz messengers favorite by Freddie Hubbard, “Crisis” and “Croquet Ballet” by Billy Harper. The band took the audience on a celestial journey with another Harper composition, If Our Hearts Could Only See, beautiful solos by members of the band, including somewhat new to me seeing him in this type of setting of late, Mr. Donald Harrison on alto, in the past I have seen Craig Handy or the master woodwinds icon, James Spaulding. Spaulding by the way is one of four surviving original musicians on the 1965 “Night of the Cookers date, featuring a battle Royale between Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan…Both Titans of the time, when this writer was in high school.

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shown backstage L-R: Cecil McBee & Patrick Gleeson producer/keyboard programming pioneer

dr-eddie-henderson-and-rjcThe band did not disappoint with a litany of great compositions from the past and present. where the improvisations were strictly top shelf.

Dr. Eddie Henderson’s playing, along with David Weiss kept me and the rest of the audience on the edge of our seats, clamoring for more even after a one and a half-hour set. “No Seven ways about it, Pound for Pound, The Cookers are the Rolls Royce on the scene, keeping the Flame nicely stoked.”

 

 

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JAZZ ICON BENNIE MAUPIN & CELLOIST-VOCALIST SHANA TUCKER INVADES WORLD STAGE


Posted by Robert J. Carmack Photos by Chuck Koton

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Bennie Maupin & Shana Tucker @ World Stage

 

 

With me not being able to attend this electrifying show, Lucky for me  one of my contributing photographers was there , Mr. Chuck Koton. Chuck Koton is a well-respected shutter-bug of our genre, that always seem to be on the scene. when the downbeat is signaled, Chuck’s lens is working to capture the essence of the sessions.

hipster-drummerand-pianist-w-benny-maupin-koton-pixsThanks again for these great pictures. The world Stage , Founded by Drummer Billy Higgins and Poet Laureate Kamaau Daood over 25 years ago. The new World Stage is off to a great start in its new facilities . Over the last 4 months they have procured a plethora of  legendary jazz artists.    This past weekend was no different as multi-instrumentalist and composer, Bennie Maupin  brought in his aggregation of players.

In addition to his group of fine musicians, He also showcased Shana Tucker, a new face and voice thats been making a lots of noise on the east coast with superior skills on cello, guitar and vocals. Spurred on by her success of her debut CD “Shine” just a couple of years ago. The young entertainer did not disappoint with her sublime performances on all her instruments.

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Jazz vocalist/musician Shana Tucker , with family friend and fan Clyde Head backstage at World Stage Performance Gallery

This writer promises a more personal interview very soon with the young musician, Ms. Shana Tucker, on her latest projects and coming tour venues. Stay tuned to this blog or #@blues2jazzguy – twitter

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