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June 2000

Henry Cook Band with Bobby Ward
Live at Montreux Detroit
Accurate Records

A playfully raucous quality distinguishes the serious performances by Henry Cook's sextet, giving it a signature sound and drive that doesn't allow its members to be too self-conscious about their roles. Live at Montreux Detroit follows their successful debut CD, Dimensional Odyssey, and it includes several originals by drummer Bobby Ward and leader-reedist Cook. Ward's two songs, for instance, "Latin Bizarre" and "Watch'm Dance," possess quirky angles, droll humor supported by pianist Jacques Chanier and no-nonsense solos. And Ward doesn't have to prod the others too much; they went to Detroit ready to play and the audience dug it! Mingus would have enjoyed how they risk bursting the seams of "Fables of Faubus" and Cook's blistering "Third Rail." Cook, a reckonable force on both E-flat reeds, writes with a broad palette. For one, the variegated "Arabesque" has two personalities explored by the melody and the tandem solos of Cecil Brooks' harmon mute, Salim Washington's pyrotechnics on tenor and the virtual mood swing in Cook's flute, all making for an evocatively mysterious fancy. This band doesn't sound like any other!

Originally published in June 2000
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