The title of Carla Cook's latest album refers to the trombone choir she's enlisted to blend with her silky smooth voice. Her natural ability makes this one work. Whether she's scat singing, crooning soft ballads, or spinning acrobatic vocalese, Cook is always on pitch and quite in control. Her expressiveness is what makes her performances special. Cook, who grew up in Detroit, has made the connection between jazz and similar art forms. She made her decision to become a jazz singer while still in the 8th grade.
On Fred Wesley's "For the Elders," Cook fills the role of fourth chair trombone. Her wordless vocals match the trombone trio that well. With ballads such as "Like a Lover" and "Someone to Light Up My Life," she's at the top of her form. But it's snappy scat singing that reveals itself as Cook's greatest strength. Near the finish of "Better than Anything," for example, she moves into a trumpet-like scat vocal that says it all better than words can.
Carla Cook's eclectic program choices reflect her varied background. A degree in Speech Communication and formal training in voice, bass and piano must surely have helped hone her natural skills. Like most singers, exposure to many music forms has made her comfortable with it all. Finding "Ode to Billie Joe" and "Come, Ye Disconsolate" on her jazz album may come as a surprise, but it fits well. Cyrus Chestnut, James Genus and Billy Kilson provide a superb team spirit. More than just a superb follow-up to her It's All About Love debut, Dem Bones reminds us of power that jazz has in its capacity for creating bridges to most other art forms.
Track Listing: The More I See You; Like A Lover; Oh Gee; Dem Bones; Just A Sittin' And A Rockin'; Ode To Billie Joe; Someone To Light Up My Life; For The Elders; Come, Ye Disconsolate; Better Than Anything; A Lover's Lullaby (Total Time: 60:31).
Personnel: Carla Cook: Vocals; Cyrus Chestnut: Keyboards; James Genus: Bass; Fred Wesley, Craig Harris, Tyrone Jefferson: Trombone; Jeffery Haynes: Percussion.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.