The new disc by Cooper-Moore’s trio brings to mind the lyrics from “Life Is Grand” by the rock band Camper Van Beethoven:
And life is grand
And I will say this at the risk of falling from favor
With those of you who have appointed yourselves
To expect us to say something darker
You see, pianist Cooper-Moore, bassist Tom Abbs, and drummer Chad Taylor explore the rhythmic nature of outward facing music, and they do it in a blessed manner.
Cooper-Moore is an unconventional, original pianist, heard with William Parker’s bands and in various New York free improv settings. His piano playing rains Cecil-like runs upon his own version of hard bop changes. If he wasn’t a pianist, he would surely be a drummer. The opening track, “Stem Cell,” and “Ricochet” play out this restless energy well. The explicit rumblings of the piano are exercised through some anaerobic drumming.
Yes, folks, these three can take you out. But the music made in between seems closer to the musicians' hearts. The under one minute “Stop Time #1” and the jabbing “Stop Time #2” switch back and forth with an interplay worthy of admiration. “#1” is a jaunty Monk brochure with a walking bass line and “#2” is a stolen convertible nighttime start/stop joyride three way conversation.
Chad Taylor of Chicago Underground fame certainly is a cooperative drummer, playing off and around his partners to great effect. Likewise, bassist Tom Abbs, who costarred with Taylor on last year’s Active Ingredients disc Titration (Delmark), looms very large here. Each is given a single track to apply a solo statement.
What's refreshing here is the joyful noise that is made. The trio’s stabs at bop, like “Spatter Matter,” and their reggae sound on “The Fox” keep things to their simplest. When they enter the chamber jazz/classical realm on “Spencer’s Eyes,” the pianist plays it straight, while Taylor conjures a turbulent storm. Their playing makes for a thing of beauty.
Track Listing: Stem Cell; Nautilus; The Fox; Stop Time #1; Ricochet; Harare; Stop Tine #2; Raising Knox; Spatter
Matter; Stop Time #3; Spencer
Personnel: Cooper-Moore - Piano; Tom Abbs - Bass; Chad Taylor - Drums.