In this day of flash in the pan overnight TV singing sensations that cease to hold our attention for more then a stolen moment, vocalists like Lainie Cooke are a rare and welcome find. Her latest offering, The Music Is The Magic, is consistent with a body of work that began with her first radio appearance at age 6. Her voice has kept her in the business in one form or another from singing to voice over work ever since.
This CD, the 3rd under her own name and 1st on the Onyx Productions Music Label, gathers a cast of stellar musicians. Bassist Luques Curtis, saxophonist
Myron Walden, pianist and arranger Tedd Firth and yours truly make a great team in support of Lainie.
The project opens with a relaxed yet swinging version of Lazy Afternoon built on a slick bass line and crystal like chord arrangement from Tedd. The playing of brushes here was a no brainer and Myron’s soprano solo and embellishments are smooth as silk. But it’s the laid back delivery of the melody by Lainie that made this a natural choice to begin the musical journey.
The straight ahead Sweet Pumpkin follows with the rock solid walking of Luques setting the stage for a duet with Lainie on the first half of the tune. The rhythm section enters on the bridge. Myron’s Tenor solo is hard core swinging and then I put my two cents in before Lainie re-enters to bring home to the tightly arranged ending.
The Music Is The Magic comes next and here I decided to set the tune in a deep and funky 2nd Line groove. Lainie’s spreading the lyric between solos gives a griot feeling. The bass has the first solo and YES that is RP playing trumpet and drums through the MAGIC of overdubbing!
Loving You drips with sensuality and the richness of Lainie’s voice, note choice and phrasing is a beautiful thing to behold. The elongated Brazilian undertow provides a magic carpet like foundation and once again Myron shows an amazing sense of maturity here with a soaring singing solo.
We decided to have to fun with my arrangement of Ask Me Now by swinging at a medium ¾ tempo. With lost of shifts and hits. Dig how in the midst of all this activity Lainie manages to deliver the melody with confidence and accuracy. The lock between Luques and I is ALWAYS deep and Myron takes full advantage with Tedd providing marvelous comping.
Pianist Tedd Firth’s remarkable sense of touch and timing as well as his ability to set the stage with seemingly perfect introductions is on full display for Cooke’s
contemplative rendition of When I Look In Your Eyes. The full range of her instrument from subtle to full-throated power made it very easy for me to accompany on muted trumpet. Here again the fullness of Lainie’s voice is a perfect match for the muted trumpet solo and colorings.
Fascinating Rhythm begins with a rubato style verse followed by a funky version of the theme. Here Lainie brings clarity to the lyric of this tune in a way I have never heard by using fewer pitches in her delivery. The rhythm then shifts to swing for a tasty piano and tenor solo by Firth and Walden.
A return to the full and lush Brazilian feeling but in ¾ is the order of business on
Live For Life. Lainie has discernment in her delivery of this song that comes from a life that has experienced and shared the fullness it has to offer.
Bassist Tabari Lake, from St Thomas is brought in on this calypso version of Manana, easily one of Cooke’s crowd favorites in her live performances. With the addition of Lake on bass 3 out of 4 members of the supporting quartet have direct and deep Caribbean roots. This tunes dances and Lainie does a great job storytelling this melody. Walden’s tenor solo is hot hot hot!
I wrote the arrangement Our Love Rolls On and once again the blend of the two horns along with Lainie’s very personal rendering of this song and her ability to tailor that rendering with the arrangement made writing for her easy and fun.
Tedd’s arrangement of Out Of This Word features a 3-2 Rhumba clave. Few bassists alive can match the acumen of bassist Luques Curtis . I really enjoy playing with this talented young man. Lainie Cooke’s mastery of simplicity is in full effect here as she sings not only the notes but also lyrics in an elegantly simple yet effective fashion.
Them There Eyes begins with a bit of brushwork in duet with the voice on the verse. The band enters at the main theme and Myron takes the first solo on tenor followed by Tedd on piano and both are swinging. When Lainie returns she expands and opens the phrasing up which leads to a classic ending.
I Have The Feeling I’ve Been Here Before closes the show. This could easily be the title of the project as well. The wisdom, clarity and nuances possessed by vocalist Lainie Cooke on this tune and throughout the recording are most refreshing. At 73 years young, she has remained relevant as a songstress in the purest sense. I am proud to have produced what I believe is her best work to date. Lainie’s voice is in a word….Magic