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With his smooth jazz originals, soprano saxophonist Jessie Allen Cooper rediscovers folk airs that recall the roots of Northern European classical music. His thin tone resembles that of a pennywhistle, and his accompaniment blends similar timbres in from all sides. Synthesizers create sheets of sound. Melodies float through the room, as a piper’s dreamy lyric would loll through the afternoon.
Then, suddenly and with the kind of change that requires a visual and aural double-take, Cooper trades in his saxophone for a harmonica and wails a contemporary blues at you. It’s refreshing. His loping rhythm, electric guitars and driving backbeat take you to a different time and place. Just this once.
Sound Travels through both time and space. Tranquil melodies and hummable refrains linger throughout each leg of the journey. Cooper prefers a calm, moonlit lake or a still, summertime pasture to more exotic lands. Several pieces drive with a touch of drama and a loud, mesmerizing rhythm. Their melodies, however, take on a pastel hue, similar to the rest of his program, that is easy on the ears and ready-made for background music. Simple lines and predictable outcomes take the listener on a journey that brings no excitement. The kids in the back seat of the family sedan would be sayin’, “Are we there yet?” for the full hour.
Track Listing: Full Moon; Waltz for an Artist; Awakening; Groovin
Personnel: Jessie Allen Cooper- soprano saxophone, harmonica, tenor saxophone, synthesizer; Tim Ponzek- keyboards, synthesizer; Steve Katz- keyboards, synthesizer; Steve Reid- synth percussion, tambourine; Jamie Papish- dumbek, other percussion; Carlos Arias- congas, other percussion; Doug Ross, Vail Johnson- bass; Jack Majdecki, Ira Ingber- guitar; Robert Williams- dobro; Tom Kemper- drums; Jim Hale- trumpet.
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.