Drummer/percussionist Jerome Cooper's fruitful musical legacy with the Revolutionary Ensemble and stints with saxophonist/composer Anthony Braxton, pianist Cecil Taylor, and others reads like a who's who in modern jazz. Recorded during two solo live performances spanning 1995-1998, Cooper's remarkable agility and captivating musical spirit is enacted throughout these predominately endearing works.
Cooper's polyrhythmic drumming and multitasking persona is prominently exhibited on this outing. The opening piece, "Bantul," features the artist's idyllic spin on Indonesian gamelan music, as he utilizes the West African instrument known as the balaphone: a mallet instrument consisting of tone bars arranged across a wooden frame. Here, Cooper states an innocent and memorably melodic childlike theme along with a march-like pulse rendered on his drum kit. The percussionist also integrates an electronic keyboard and electronic tonal rhythmic activators into his vast rhythmic arsenal, whereas some of these sounds and sequences may be the result of triggering techniques. On "Monk Tune," he executes oscillating patterns atop an ostinato pulse, while also using his tom-toms as a vehicle for African style rhythms. Cooper crafts a world beat groove via his extended soloing on the chiramia (a Mexican woodwind instrument) during Charles Mingus's classic "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." However, at nearly twelve minutes in length, Cooper's intense, chant-like choruses tend to wear a bit thin. Nonetheless, this recording provides listeners with a broad perspective of the artist's irrefutable enthusiasm and glittering musicality.
Jazz is for me the most important cultural revolution of the 20th century and I'm proud to
play this kind of music. For me, jazz is more than a kind of music, it's the best way of playing
any musical material.