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.