Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

1,629

Jack Cooper: Mists: Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Charles Edward Ives (1874-1954), one of the first American composers of classical music to earn an international reputation, derived his inspiration from themes he had heard while growing up in Connecticut: hymns, traditional folk songs, marching bands (his father led one), patriotic songs, parlor ballads, Saturday night dances, and especially the melodies of the great Stephen Foster. Jazz composer / arranger / orchestrator / educator / saxophonist Jack Cooper, who was introduced to Ives' music by his mother, Georgie Cooper, in the late 1960s and has remained one of its champions ever since, has undertaken the daunting task of reimagining that music within a contemporary big-band framework and succeeded beyond even the most auspicious expectations.

The enterprise didn't happen overnight; Cooper first adapted and orchestrated three of Ives' vocal works back in 1997, and was encouraged to move forward by James Sinclair, Manny Albam and Bob Brookmeyer, among others. And lest it be assumed that the end result is merely classical music enshrouded beneath a thin veneer of modern jazz, it should be pressed home from the outset that it is nothing of the sort—Cooper has taken eight of Ives' diverse essays, which were, bear in mind, radical for their time, and rearranged them into straight-ahead, swinging big-band themes of the highest order. To help carry out the task, he has assembled a group of the New York City area's most accomplished sidemen and prevailed upon the renowned trumpeter Terell Stafford to solo on "Mists" and "The Cage."

As a result, Ives' innovative songs have seldom sounded more engaging, whether recast as blues, bossa nova, rondo, brass chorale, jazz waltz or easygoing swing. The opener, "Mists," whose diaphanous name fairly screams "ballad," is instead an ebullient cooker worthy of the Vanguard or Bill Holman orchestras at their best, with snappy solos to match by Stafford, tenor saxophonist Ivan Renta, trombonist Luis Bonilla and drummer Vince Cherico. Cherico, guitarist Alex Wintz and flugel Jim Seeley ad lib perceptively on "The Last Reader," whose haunting melody ensnares the ear, as do Renta, trombonist John Mosca and alto Billy Drewes on the ardent "Children's Hour." "Tom Sails Away," a rondo whose components recall the title character's childhood memories, precedes "The Camp-Meeting," a warmhearted salute (with bossa) to Ives' love affair with the American brass band tradition. Wintz, flugel John Walsh and pianist Randy Ingram are the soloists on "Tom," Ingram, trumpeter Scott Wendholt and bassist Andy McKee on "Camp-Meeting."

Two hymns are included, the second of which, "(Shall We Gather) at the River," is perhaps Ives' best-known melody, still played and sung in churches far and wide. The other is "Watchman!," reanimated as a buoyant jazz waltz embodying crisp statements by Wendholt, alto Andrew Halchak and trombonist Rey David Alejandre. "River," whose ardent solos are by Bonilla and baritone Chris Karlic, is a minor blues that leads to the muscular finale, "The Cage" (emphatic intro and timekeeping courtesy of Cherico), inspired by the impressions of a child who is watching a confined leopard at a zoo. Drewes, Stafford and tenor Peter Brainin share solo honors.

Cooper has consummated his dream, Mists is exemplary from beginning to end, and Charles Ives would no doubt be pleased to learn that the designation "jazz composer" has been added to his already impressive dossier.

Track Listing: Mists; The Last Reader; The Children’s Hour; Tom Sails Away; The Camp-Meeting; Watchman!; At the River; The Cage.

Personnel: Jack Cooper: leader, arranger; Nick Marchione: trumpet; John Walsh: trumpet, flugelhorn; Jim Seeley: trumpet, flugelhorn; Scott Wendholt: trumpet; Billy Drewes: alto sax; Andrew Halchak: alto sax; Ivan Renta: tenor sax; Peter Brainin: tenor sax; Chris Karlic: baritone sax; John Mosca: trombone; Luis Bonilla: trombone; Rey David Alejandre: trombone; Frank Cohen: bass trombone (1, 2, 4-8); Douglas Purviance: bass trombone (3, 8); Randy Ingram: piano, Hammond B3 organ; Alex Wintz: guitar; Andy McKee: bass; Vince Cherico: drums. Guest soloist – Terell Stafford: trumpet (1, 8).

Title: Mists: Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Planet Arts Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Baby It's Cold Outside CD/LP/Track Review Baby It's Cold Outside
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 21 CD/LP/Track Review Paimon: Book of Angels Volume 21
by Don Phipps
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Wrong Turns And Dead Ends CD/LP/Track Review Wrong Turns And Dead Ends
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Lavaman CD/LP/Track Review Lavaman
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Bad Hombre CD/LP/Track Review Bad Hombre
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Aladdin's Dream CD/LP/Track Review Aladdin's Dream
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Comes Love - A Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass" CD/LP/Track Review Comes Love - A Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald And Joe Pass
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik" CD/LP/Track Review Mikrojazz!: Neue Expressionistische Musik
by Doug Collette
Published: October 1, 2017
Read "Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello" CD/LP/Track Review Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello
by John Eyles
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Up and Coming" CD/LP/Track Review Up and Coming
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "Onward" CD/LP/Track Review Onward
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 5, 2017
Read "Crossing" CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017

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!