Lainie Cooke is a singer not afraid to take chances. Her third recording, The Music is the Magic, she populates her recital with near standards: songs that are familiar but not cliche. Supported by a reeds-led quartet anchored by drummer (and producer on this recording) Ralph Peterson, Lainie displays a command of vocal jazz that is impressive. "Lazy Afternoon" and "Sweet Pumpkin" are sung with a Sarah Vaughan angularity betraying a good deal of practice and talent. Abbey Lincoln's tightly arranged title piece hosts a rhythm section interlude featuring bassist Luques Curtis and Peterson's percussive drumming and tart trumpet playing.
A perfect vehicle for Lainie proves to be Thelonious Monk's "How I Wish" complete with Jon Hendricks' lyrics. Her phrasing is solid and confident. Her performance of Gershwin's "Fascinating Rhythm" is a study in drama with a brief balladic introduction that amps up into a blues-driven simmer and stays there for Ted Firth's bright solo followed by Myron Walden's tenor solo. The Music is the Magic is a wholly satisfying collection of jazz vocals that does not rely on the heavily traveled standard delivered by a singular and inspired voice.
Lazy Afternoon; Sweet Pumpkin; The Music is Magic; Loving You; How I
Wish; When I Look in Your Eyes; Fascinating Rhythm; Live for Life;
Manana; Our Love Rolls On; Out of this World; Them There Eyes; I