254

The Cookers: Cast the First Stone

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
The Cookers: Cast the First Stone Cast the First Stone is the sophomore follow-up to Warriors (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2010), the debut recording of the all-star ensemble The Cookers, whose name was inspired by the 1965 Blue Note live album series Night of the Cookers. Lending credence to its namesake, this powerhouse septet swings mightily through a series of post-bop originals and a sole cover, bolstered by the presence of special guest, acclaimed saxophonist Azar Lawrence, whose recent resurgence has found the renowned firebrand in riveting form.

Formed by trumpeter and musical director David Weiss, the group boasts a stellar lineup of revered veterans; most rose to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Trumpeter Eddie Henderson and drummer Billy Hart gained recognition as members of Herbie Hancock's influential Mwandishi sextet, while tenor saxophonist Billy Harper played with Art Blakey, Lee Morgan, and Max Roach. Bassist Cecil McBee and pianist George Cables share decades of sideman experience between them and alto saxophonist Craig Handy is a longstanding member of the Mingus Big Band.

Following in the footsteps of their debut, Cast the First Stone covers a similar range of material, veering from lush ballads and bluesy mid-tempo swingers to rugged up-tempo burners. Conveying the casual air of a jam session, these seasoned soloists stretch out with spirited verve, extrapolating inspired variations from sophisticated arrangements of familiar themes with a shrewd awareness of song-craft. A trio of robust ballads spotlights their understated lyricism; Henderson's muted horn ruminations ("The Peacemaker"), Lawrence's sinuous soprano musings ("Looking for the Light") and Cable's effervescent pianism ("Think on Me") resound with the wisdom of experience, adroitly underscored by the rhythm section, whose keen interplay is a recurrent source of beguiling detail.

Providing dynamic contrast to the date's more reserved fare, the testimonial fervor of Harper's intervallic cadences on the titular opener establishes the album's underlying tone with an evangelical urgency worthy of its title. Harper's rousing choruses on the gospelized hard bop of "The Seventh Day" and his waltz-funk classic "Croquet Ballet" are equally impassioned, inspiring compelling statements from Weiss on the former and Handy on the later. A blistering version of Harold Mabern's "The Chief" ends the record on a high note, with a vociferous tenor chase between Lawrence and Harper that raises the rafters.

A cohesive and focused effort that lives up to its all-star billing, Cast the First Stone transcends the clichés that hinder many similar sessions. Forging ahead on their second release together in as many years, these legends ply a vivacious strain of muscular acoustic jazz that establishes an historical through-line to the innovations of past masters, keeping the faith with passion and grace.


Track Listing: Cast the First Stone; Peacemaker; Looking for the Light; The Seventh Day; Croquet Ballet; Think on Me; The Chief.

Personnel: Billy Harper: tenor saxophone; Eddie Henderson: trumpet; David Weiss: trumpet; Craig Handy: alto saxophone (1-5); George Cables: piano; Cecil McBee: bass; Billy Hart: drums; Azar Lawrence: soprano saxophone (3), tenor saxophone (4, 6, 7).

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Plus Loin Music


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "You and I" CD/LP/Track Review You and I
by Karl Ackermann
Published: March 19, 2016
Read "The Magical Forest" CD/LP/Track Review The Magical Forest
by John Kelman
Published: August 4, 2016
Read "Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968" CD/LP/Track Review Groovin’ Hard - Live at the Penthouse 1964 - 1968
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "The Hive" CD/LP/Track Review The Hive
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2016
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: December 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!