Gearbox Records spared no cost in the production of The cooks current album, Attention!and if David Weiss‘s (trumpet, arranger, speaker) emphatic”Watch OUTSIDE!” is a manifesto, it has been proven by the music’s bold flamboyance, outgoing dynamism, demanding honesty and human essence. It was music of an intense present, created by legends, five of them in their early eighties, who have carried the flame at the forefront of jazz movements since the 1960s.
Donald Harrison was not to be with us that evening, and his shoes were skillfully filled by the always curious and inventive Craig Handy on the viola. His solos were seductive and engaging ‘despite’, and thankfully avoided stylistic saxophone cliches.
Billy Harper  held a leading position throughout, and while several of his tracks (“Destiny Is Yours”, “Croquet Ballet”, “Call of The Wild And Peaceful Heart”, etc.) caught fire – his figure cutting a demigod stature, even without the famous black leather cape.
Its viscous, chocolaty sound and deep low-end explosions contrasted sharply with the current trend of post-bop homogeneity of sound in the new generation of saxophone sounds. Harper’s improvisations have been matured to the essence: distillations of poetic or devotional text.
Cecil McBee , on bass and again contributing material to ‘Cat’s Out Of The Bag’ and ‘Mutima’, whose presence on legendary recordings is invaluable, was a picture of grace. His tone and timing were just brilliant – and thank you, Gearbox and Church of Sound, for getting the bass sound right… – like that American penchant for ostinati, developing through rich harmonic episodes, he stated with such authority and care in tandem with his winger, the great George Cables. Who doesn’t love a piano-bass unison structure that runs through their hard-bop anthems of the late 1960s?
Cables , couldn’t have been more eloquent and focused on its dual function of supporting left hand, topped with McCoy Tyner-like pulsing and flowery coloring of bell-shaped slopes. His bop lines were fully intact on more densely harmonized passages. He contributed to several compositions including ‘The Mystery of Monifa Brown’.
David Weiss is no slouch on flugelhorn and trumpet, and his individualistic style of cascades and torrents of well-informed lyricism once again made nonsense of this homage to current trends in the United States and the UK. but our utter delight was reserved for the trumpet sound of Eddie Henderson his fire and precision intact.
The strange pin fell during its ballad feature, but they took no break in the intensely listened to, diverse and youthful appreciation of a masterclass in poise and melodic poise, purity of tone and articulated intention.
Billy Hart  I mention last. It cannot be overstated how Hart brought the cohesion of intent, spirit of fire and grace, musical structure and expressive verve to this group. He was constantly inventive in the arrangements, creating intensely sustained transitions between and under the soloists. His 15 minute solo in the second set was simply transcendent. Its construction, its dynamics and its unearthly intensity were such that it is officially the only one in its category as a drum solo that brought tears to my eyes, as well as many of my peers around me.