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Although bassist Walter Booker has played with some of the biggest figures in jazz history (Cannonball and Nat Adderley; Stan Getz; Sonny Rollins; Thelonious Monk), recorded material under his own name remains elusive. Bookie's Cookbook documents a September '99 swinging session from his working quintet. This group features the versatile sounds of Cecil Payne's baritone sax, which span the range from throaty bellows to birdlike flight. Payne and trumpeter Marcus Belgrave cover most of the melodic ground: laying down solos straight out of the bop tradition, playing with empathic resonance and attention to detail.
Unfortunately Bookie's Cookbook suffers from a problem which normally doesn't occur on Mapleshade recordings. The drums are so far out front that the other instruments often end up lost in the thicket. Booker's bass, for example, is all but unintelligible everywhere on this recordand that's a real shame, given this is his moment in the sun. And except for occasional solos, Roni Ben-Hur's guitar also ends up sounding distant in the background. It's disappointing that the balance would be so far off on a disc with such promise. The problem is not that drummer Leroy Williams does not perform with energy and grace. It's just that in what is so obviously a group effort, the other players get lost in his shadow.
Track Listing: Cookbook; Pete's Rock; Absolutely Not; Is That So?; Chasing the Bird; Something for Kenny.
Personnel: Cecil Payne: baritone saxophone; Marcus Belgrave: trumpet; Roni Ben-Hur: guitar; Walter Booker: bass; Leroy Williams: drums; with guest Larry Willis: piano.