How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Drummer Bruce Cox may not be a household name in the jazz world, but he's studied, played and/or recorded with plenty of people who are. The Philadelphia-born stick-wielder gleaned plenty of wisdom through his lessons with drumming icons Philly Joe Jones
, and he's put that knowledge to good use by backing the greats over the past several decades. Cox has been the rhythmic force behind a plethora of high profile players, including Saturnine piano madman Sun Ra
. With a resume like that, it's hard to imagine why Cox isn't better known, but the answer connects to the very reason why he's earned and held the coveted drum chairs in so many killer bands over the years: Cox's first priority is the music and self-serving agendas aren't his thing. All of this rings true throughout Status Cymbals.
Cox concocted a varied twelve song program that demonstrates his ample skills without putting himself on a pedestal; he simply does what he does best by laying down the rhythmic law behind his simpatico Core-Tet mates. Saxophonist Abraham Burton
is the final part of the equation and he carries the music forward, providing direction and ballast. While he's a bit too low in the mix on occasion, he always manages to get the job done.
Status Cymbals gives Cox an opportunity to showcase his original material, while also including a few choice covers. His writing reflects his experiences in different musical circles and simultaneously paints him as one within the tradition and one who pushes boundaries to extend the very definition of the tradition. Groove morphing music ("Burno"), spiritually fervent, yet understated fare ("Good Air"), eerie endeavors ("Dark Matter"), waltz-based numbers ("Robbie-Jean") and odd-metered funk ("Demi") are all part of the package. Cox doesn't put himself first very often, but "Les Rayons" is the perfect example of why he should. This Elvin Jones