Born in Pensacola. FL in 1934, Herman “Junior” Cook became and remained active in mainstream jazz during the 60s, 70, and 80s. His more innovative contemporaries continually overshadowed him, an unfortunate fact that obscures his talent and true musical design. Cook and Hank Mobley may be spoken of in the same breath as the “Middle Weight Champions” of the tenor saxophone. During his career, Cook recorded far more widely for others than leading his own dates. He supported a variety of headliners from the aforementioned Silver to Kenny Burrell to Cedar Walton. Cook died in New York City in 1992.
Senior Cookin’ is 32 Jazz’s combination of Cook’s two Muse releases Good Cookin’ (Muse MR5159, 1979) and Somethin’s Cookin’ (Muse MR5218, 1981). The former finds Cook driving an all-star sextet that produces small-band music with a big-band sound. The latter is a classic tenor quartet outing where his expansive tenor rules and Buster Williams’(Sphere) burping bass fills in the spaces. The sum is an excellent portriat of an underrated tenor.
With innovation often comes excess and convention, boredom. While no trendsetter, Junior Cook’s contribution is a great one if for no other reason than towing the line consistently well. In baseball, Nolan Ryan and Cal Ripkin, Jr. possessed a work ethic that impelled them to get up and go to work every day and to perform consistently well. So with Junior Cook.
Track Listing (from Good Cookin’ ):J.C.; I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; Play Together Again; Waltz for Junior; I Waited for You; Mood.
Personnel (from Good Cookin’ ):Junior Cook: Tenor Saxophone; Walter Booker: Bass; Al Dailey: Piano; Slide Hampton: Trombone; Bill Hardman: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Mario Rivera: Baritone Saxophone; Leroy Williams: Drums
Track Listing (from Somethin’s Cookin’ ):Fiesta Espanol; Detour Ahead; Illusion of Grandeur; Heavy Blue; Hindsight; Chi-Chi. (Total Playing Time 63:23).
Personnel (from Somethin’s Cookin’ ):Junior Cook: Tenor Saxophone; Cedar Walton: Piano; Billy Higgins: Drums; Buster Williams: Bass.