While some young lions can hardly wait to enter a recording studio and show the world what they have, a few older cats prefer to wait a while to make sure they get it right the first time. Veteran saxophonist Jerry Cook
is one of those cats. Walk in the Park
is Cook's first album under his own name. He is in his mid-fifties, and has gigged with some of the best musicians on the scene, especially in western Canada, for almost three decades but always as a sideman. And does he get it right? That is of course a matter of opinion, but here's one inflexible vote in the "aye" column.
The album is certainly well-named, as producing sharp and perceptive jazz solos does seem to be no more than a walk in the park for Cook and his teammates: pianist Chris Gestrin
, bassist John Lee
and drummer Jesse Cahill
. The "+" represents guitarist Dave Sikula
who sits in on and adds color to three of the session's ten numbers. Cook is steeped in the roots of jazz, above all the blues, whose substance and spirit are always close at hand. As a result, this Walk in the Park
is for the most part loose and easygoingsome may say too much so, as the tempo pivots to a faster pace on only two numbers, Charlie Chaplin's enticing "Smile" and the well-grooved and amiable "Cook's Blues" (and for the midsection of the finale, Cook's "Nature's Lament").
Elsewhere, the music is smooth and good-natured, from Cook's opening title song to Mal Waldron
's "Soul Eyes," Charlie Haden
's "Hello My Lovely," the Gershwin brothers' "Summertime" and Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia on My Mind." Cook also wrote the graceful "Lazy Days." Evelyn Danzig and Jack Segal penned the lyrical, slow-paced "Scarlet Ribbons." Sikula adds his warmth and charm to "Lazy Days," "Hello My Lovely" and "Cook's Blues." Cook is in splendid form throughout, while Gestrini, Lee and Cahill lend durable support and solo capably whenever called upon. Although the end result may seem unassuming, its import is aptly summed up by Cory Weeds
, Cook's fellow saxophonist and long-time friend: "the complexity is in the simplicity." Or, as Cook himself says, the aim is to "help [the listener] relax, reflect and recharge. You know, like a walk in the park."
Walk in the Park; Lazy Days; Smile; Soul Eyes; Hello My Lovely; Scarlet Ribbons; Summertime;
Cook’s Blues; Georgia on My Mind; Nature’s Lament.