About ten years ago, Cooper-Moore was a bona fide man of mystery. He had a reputation as a formally trained, creatively inspired master improviser who was fluent on just about any instrument he touched (particularly the piano), but he was also in possession of a notoriously maverick heart. It was said he would only perform and record with William Parker, usually with the In Order to Survive quartet. And when he stepped away from the piano, he made his own instruments, rather than play what everyone else played.
In the late '90s, he first spun off with drummer Susie Ibarra to play in her trio. Then he developed a partnership with tenor saxophonist Assif Tsahar that has resulted in the uniformly excellent America, Tells Untold and Lost Brother, all on Tsahar's Hopscotch label. And most recently, he's been doing his most impressive work with his Triptych Myth trio.
It's hard to figure what could have happened between the recording of the sessions found on Outtakes 1978 and Cooper-Moore's public reemergence, but he was as eclectic nearly thirty years ago as he is today. The word "outtakes doesn't quite do this CD justice, as it suggests leftovers and incompleteness, rather than the first-rate selections found here.
This recording also presents the young David S. Ware in a supporting role, and one discovers that his sound was as identifiable then as it is today. It's interesting to hear Ware paired with a pianist other than Matthew Shipp, and the playing on "Trio and "Prayer is sanctified and gospelly charged. On "Duo Cooper-Moore's twanger sounds like a clogged drain struggling to clear itself. On "Breakdown he plays a delightful clay fife on top of a Revolutionary War drum roll, as if leading the rebel army through the colonies. And on "In the Beginning, what starts out as a lovely sung reading of the opening lines of the Bible turns into a psychedelic freak-out. Cooper-Moore offers an infinite variety of musical surprises.
Emancipation, take 4; Ensemble 1, redo take 9; Trio, take 5; Breakdown, take 10; Duo, take 11; Ensemble 1, take 2; Prayer, take 8; Ensemble 1, take 1; Trio, take 6; Emancipation, take 3; In The Beginning.
Cooper-Moore: piano, diddley-bow, clay fife, slap pipe, ashimba, twanger, vocal; Mark Gould: trumpet; David S. Ware: tenor sax; Kenwood Dennard: drums; Abigail Goldman: vocal.
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