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Cooper-Moore: The Cedar Box Recordings (2008)

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Cooper-Moore: The Cedar Box Recordings How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In 2004, the multi-instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and 50 Miles of Elbow Room released a handmade cedar box filled with 5 vinyl 7" records, each with the artist playing a different handmade instrument. These collectible art pieces were soon sold out.

But you're in luck, as AUM Fidelity along with 50 Miles of Elbow Room is repressing the Cedar Box recordings in a limited edition of 500 CDs, silkscreened and hand numbered to commemorate Cooper-Moore's 2008 solo American tour.

The 20-page booklet included explains the artist's history and story behind the self-made instruments. Like his ashimba, an Ashton marimba made from found objects. Its percussive xylophone sound on "Emancipation" is both low-key and low-tech. Born in the hills of Virginia, he is a natural musician able to make music from everyday objects. He might be best known for his piano playing with the likes of William Parker's Little Huey Orchestra and (smaller) band In Order To Survive as well as his own trio Triptych Myth with bassist Tom Abbs and drummer Chad Taylor, but he is also a stellar solo musician adept at, among other instruments, the diddley-bo, horizontal hoe-handle harp, ashimba, bamboo fife, twanger, mouth-bow, three-stringed fretless banjo, percussion, synthesizer and voice. These 11-tracks include both songs and story telling.

You might call his style country folk, but only if you'd be willing to call John Coltrane's music country too. From the free playing on the piano piece (not homemade) "Solo From Bordeaux" to the effects-laden 3-string banjo (handmade) "Crow Shit On A Window," his music is simultaneously emanating from down home and outer space. As much Buck Owens as there is Thurston Moore.

These recordings are a surprising treat made by an outsider artist with a jazz artist's ear for amour fou.

Track Listing: A Lament for Trees; Where Do Old Friends Go?; Emancipation; Fife in the Living Room; Fife on Bridge Over River; That's Right; Solo from Bordeaux; A Sunday Tale; Sweet Hour of Prayer; Crow Shit on the Window; The Death Queen.

Personnel: Cooper-Moore: diddley-bo, horizontal hoe-handle harp, ashimba, bamboo fife, twanger, piano, mouth-bow, three-stringed fretless banjo, percussion, synth, voice.

Record Label: AUM Fidelity

Style: Modern Jazz


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