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This CD isn't "cool" in the sense of inscrutable players wearing dark shades and attitude. It's more like the "cool" applied to something delightful, like this trio's deft and friendly handling of the material. The jazz on Cool is absolutely solid but never denseit's playful and flowing, full of imagination and wit.
The trio freshens the familiar with new arrangements. They dare to commit reharmonization on "C Jam Blues," and it works; so does the rubato bass lead on "I Loves You Porgy," which transforms that tired tune into something pensive and deep. Three tracks were written by Joe's father, Al Cohn: the wake-up opener, "Take Four," the swinging "You and Me," and the audible fun between "Two Funky People." Also represented are Fats Waller and Nat Cole, in the jaunty "Jitterbug Waltz" and the intricate "Bop Kick." Leonhart sings his dreamy lyric to Tommy Flanagan's "My Bluebird," vocalizes his own thoughtful "For Real," and delivers one of his patented wry performances on "Cool." His droll liner notes capture the feel of the music: both include flashes of humor with profound respect and love for the tradition.
All three musicians are seasoned stars in their own right, and their combination is sparkling and classy. If you liked Oscar Peterson with Ray Brown and Herb Ellis, you'll love this new release.
Track Listing: Take Four, If I Only Had a Brain, Cool, Nobody Else But Me, Shall We Dance, My Bluebird, Jitterbug Waltz, C Jam Blues, You and Me, I Loves You, Porgy, Bop Kick, For Real, Two Funky People
Personnel: Jay Leonhart (bass, vocals), Ted Rosenthal (piano), Joe Cohn (guitar)
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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