Black Hat Records presents:
The Cooke Quartet's debut CD Searching
Reviews of the new CD an indefinite suspension of the possible, The Is and Statements
Lawrence Brazier- Jazz Now November 2001 Volume 11, Number 7
And search they do. This is an achieved coupling of rhythm and exploration in which the percussionists are given a great deal of work in laying the ground for the flights taken by multi-instrumentalist Michael Cooke. This is Jazz for the serious listener. Jazz for the reflective soul, and that goes for the up-tempo pieces, too. What is constantly a revelation is the sheer number of really great, and generally little known musicians who are capable of such a high- quality performance. We sometimes hear the established names of Jazz producing music less accomplished than what we have here. A real pity, we feel. Sameer Guptats' "The Source" has an inner beauty, a special quality, that permeates the air around you. This CD is for people who listen to a lot of Jazz, for people who listen daily and often hours at a time. Recommended for people who are already working their CD players with their first cup of coffee.
John Barrett- Jazz USA Vol 4 - Issue 4. . . May 2000
(Black Hat Records - 2000)
by John Barrett
Give this some time; it starts slow but the power grows every minute. Michael Cooke has a strong abrasive tenor, like late-Fifties Coltrane; on "Malcontent" he squeals, metallic rage as Mel Nelson jabs Cecil Taylor chords. Nice idea, but something's missing; I can't really say what, but keep listening. They find it - in abundance.
Percussion is everywhere; as many as four men on drums of the world. Tabla reigns on the mystic "Goddess"; Cooke takes the alto on a sinuous dance. When he leaves, Nelson shines: echoing block chords, rhythmic slams, and a moment of pure Tyner. He tried this on "Malcontent", but here it succeeds. Mel's lush on his ballad "Nikita", where Michael plies the old slow vibrato. (Always gorgeous when one does it right - he does.)
There's a deep Latin groove on "Searching" (Cooke's soprano is vibrant, if a bit quiet) and the Trane whistle excels on a furious "Footprints". "Coalescing" features the bass of Alec Lytle; he walks tall as Cooke surrounds him in flute. (Some overblowing here, and a lot of sweetness.) "The Source" is a ballad with guts: tough tone from Lytle (plus a good solo), Cooke swaying slow, and congas for a naked-city feel. This is nice, but wait for the encore: with a bass clarinet flutter Dolphy used on "God Bless the Child", Michael sails strong with "Reflection", just him and the bass. It's a marvelous display, shows Cooke has a full bag of tricks, and hints he hasn't used them all. Very impressive; if you find this album, your search will be rewarded.
Jim Santella -Cadence Magazine, Vol. 31 No. 7, July 2005 p. 105:
Searching features the Cooke Quartet in an intense meeting of Latin, Indian, Asian, Classical Music, and Jazz. Seven of the program's nine pieces are original compositions. Each portrays an exotic setting that fuses creative Jazz with marked impressionism. Sameer Gupta's "Goddess" employs Roland Robles on tabla and Cliff Winnig on tanpura in a caravan that flirts with mysticism and depth of thought. Cooke's alto surrounds the sensual theme with overt statements that drive intensely. His title track surges rhythmically to a Latin theme as Cooke's soprano gives his audience a taste of the mainstream. Paul Fisher supports on congas while the leader drives a hard bargain. While his quartet turns in a stellar performance, Cooke pushes a little too hard throughout the session. As he overblows each theme, the distortion rides a little too heavy for its impression to settle in gracefully. Piano, bass, and drums, on the other hand, control the performance ironically, so that it all comes together. He pushes Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman" on alto with a raspy tone and an intense spirit. He drives Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" hard on tenor with purpose and desire. With Fisher on congas and piano taking on a larger role, his quartet re-creates the piece's magic. There's an edge to Cooke's tenor tone, however, that moves him far away from the original. His interpretations remain unique and creative.
Alan Lawrence - Jazz Loft:
This disc is fresh, innovative jazz from the Cooke Quartet. "Searching" is energetic music with crisp improvisation and fresh ideas. Very nice.
Lee Prosser- jazzreview.com:
Venus Rea' - KSAK 90.1FM Walnut, CA:
I really loved that CD (Searching) you sent and so did my Co-host.
Yanick Theriault-RadioJ 93.5 FM New Brunswick, Canada:
... played it with good reviews. Had a call and many comments (all of which positive). My copilote says the same thing: good grooves, man!
Kristen Heslet-WBMT 88.3 FM Boxford, Mass.:
I just wanted to let you know that I've had a lot of requests for the CD and lots of positive feedback. I personally love listening to Michael's' CD...they have an awesome sound!
Nick Dedina - Listen.com Reviewer:
The Cooke Quartet make Hard Bop that, like Horace Silver and early Herbie Hancock, dares to be delightful. Latin and Swing touches make their mid-'60s Blue Note sound extra groovadelic-- this is one tight outfit.
Malcontent: Up tempo jazz in the hard bop tradition, with some exciting sax work and solid walking.
Lonley Woman: Ornette Coleman's classic head given an insightful and quick paced treatment by Bay Area saxophonist Michael Cooke.
Footprints: A funky rendition of the Miles Davis standard. Latin percussion renders this take less abstract than usual.
Searching: You've had 3 drinks. Now take off your shoes and flop about like the trout you are.
Rev. Dr. Rodrick Miller:
I have been listening to "Searching", and I'm enjoying it very much. He (Michael Cooke) is very talented, that's for sure. Michael is able to set various moods in these songs. And the energy comes through.
WOW! It's incredible. I do hear nods to Coltrane a lot, but will surely hear more stylistic references with each listening. I listened to it all the way into London this morning on the train too - so it's now a permanent feature in my walkman.(It's worth noting that when I went to put the CD into the stereo, I took out The Birth of the Cool to make way for it. So, Miles makes way for Michael..)
From Boston, Mass. , September 15, 1999
Innovative and emotional jazz! Searching is a great album. It is not glossy or slick. It is jazz played with emotion from the soul. It made me feel as though I was sitting in a jazz club in the by-gone days, listening to musicians tell their stories of love, sorrow and joy through music. This group reaches the inner soul of us all!
Christian Carlson from Atlanta, GA , October 6, 1999
Excellent Old-School Jazz The Cooke Quartet is a new band out of the Bay Area that pays tribute to the Old School Jazz sounds of Coltrane, Miles, Monk, etc. The combination of standards and orginals give hope to the current Jazz scene. If you are looking for some "new" music to put beside your "Live at Birdland" CD, this is it.
I like this style and era of jazz. This group does what it does very well... keep it up!
I love the percussion. It's adds so much to the vibe. Good groove, nice flavor.
tastfull use latin rythme. love sax work. soulfull and polished.
Very Good, very original, very smooth. I really like it!!!
It has all the Sandunga rythm that is espected from a latin jazz mucisian I personally admire that juice
Skillfully played. Nice Latin flavour.
Copyright, Black Hat Records 1999. All rights reserved.