Like something out of a classic mid-1960s session for Blue Note Records, The Cookers are hard bop masters for the 21st century. Sporting a two-trumpet, two-sax frontline, the all-veteran septet features Billy Harper and Donald Harrison on saxes and Eddie Henderson and David Weiss on trumpet, supported by the firm rhythm section of George Cables on piano, Cecil McBee on bass and Billy Hart on drums. All seven members have chops dating back to the 1960s and 1970s, yet as a collective effort, they sound surprisingly fresh.
For 2014’s “Time and Again,” The Cookers take their brooding sound to a new, higher level. With original compositions from five of the seven players, the tunes vary enough to keep the proceedings interesting, but never too far from their hard bop tendencies. Lots of heavy left hand work from Cables maintains that dark vibe that the best hard bop always seems to feature. McBee’s support just adds to the rootsy foundation, letting the horns move around with ease. Further, the bassist’s “Dance of the Invisible Nymph” is the standout track and pretty much seals the deal for me. Stellar stuff.
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