Cookers confirmed for Ronnie's
Inspired by the 1965 Freddie Hubbard Blue Note album Night Of The Cookers, the all-star US sextet The Cookers is set to light up Ronnie Scott's club for two nights next week (21-22 February). The lineup, now confirmed, reads like a roll-call for the best of hard bop, with the 60s veterans Billy Harper, Eddie Henderson, George Cables, Cecil McBee and Billy Hart alongside the younger Craig Handy and David Weiss.
The Cookers are followed into the club by Courtney Pine's Europa (23-24 February) and in March the club presents a carousel of stars, including Jack Bruce, Tower Of Power, Ron Carter (see the cover feature in Jazz Journal January 2012), Chris Potter, Marcus Roberts and Ambrose Akinmusire. More at ronniescotts.co.uk. Box office: 020 7439 0747.
US trumpeter Akinmusire also appears more widely in March through Serious, playing Gateshead Sage, 0191 443 4661 (25 March, as part of the Gateshead jazz festival), Bristol Colston Hall, 0117 922 3686 (27), Nottingham Lakeside Arts Centre, 0115 846 7777 (28) and Manchester Band On The Wall, 0161 834 1786 (29).
Jazz Journal reviewed The Cookers' first two albums last year.
Writing in JJ April 2011 of their debut, The Warriors (Jazz Legacy Productions JLP 1001009), Barry Witherden was pleased to find "not a bunch of conceited, loud-mouthed TV chefs, but a get-together of some of the best senior jazz artisans still on the scene."
Mark Gardner had this to say of the band's second album in JJ June 2011:
CAST THE FIRST STONE
Cast The First Stone; Peacemaker; Looking For The Light; The Seventh Day; Croquet Ballet; Think On Me; The Chief (61.21)
Eddie Henderson, David Weiss (t); Craig Handy (as); Azar Lawrence (ts, ss); Billy Harper (ts); George Cables (p); Cecil McBee (b); Billy Hart (d). NY, 5 & 6 April 2010.
Plus Loin Music PL4536
The Cookers are a group of 1960s jazz vets who have pooled their talents in an exciting cooperative. Harper, McBee, Cables, Henderson and Hart employ their decades of experience to good purpose, helped by some more recent arrivals - Weiss, Handy and Lawrence. The band takes its name from the famous two-album Blue Note serving of Night Of The Cookers which documented a thrilling trumpet face-off between Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan whose blistering exchanges are rightly celebrated.
If the contents here do not reach the level of those memorable jams, there is more than sufficient muscular music for those who like their sounds hot and strong. All three saxes perform with dash and drive, while Henderson and Weiss are more measured than Hubbard and Morgan and nowhere indulge in a brass tilt. It's so good to hear Cables again. The pianist, incidentally, contributed two compositions to the date, while Harper supplied three and McBee one. The final track, The Chief, is by Harold Mabern, who was, as it happens, the pianist on those Night Of The Cookers sets.
Offering a judicious blend of hard bop and modality with a soupçon of free edginess, this band is thoroughly contemporary, and with expert back-up from the McBee-Hart team - who have seen and done it all - the soloists receive consistent pulse to assist momentum. The precise ensemble work suggests that The Cookers are well rehearsed and take their responsibilities seriously. This is their second CD and more are sure to follow because these men have plenty to say that demands attention.
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