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Let's Connect

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Album Review

Over the course of his eclectic but unfortunately somewhat sporadic two decade recording career, the multi-talented Los Angeles based composer, saxophonist, and harmonica player has delved successfully into new age, funky smooth jazz, world music, and the realm of the healing arts (his five-CD, 2000 release Sounds of Feelings). While his enticing invitation Let's Connect directly follows the sax and piano based chillout/relaxation project Pacific Lounge, its rich textures and distinctively bluesy, Latin and Brazilian directions expand upon the multi-faceted energy of his 2003 major-market release Sound Travels. Tapping into the spirit of his iconic ancestor Benjamin Franklin, he invents his own transcendent genre in spots, mixing, for instance, his sensual blues sax with edgy harmonica in a soundscape that mixes soulful smooth jazz with chill atmospheres. Perfectly capturing the exotic vibe and spontaneity Cooper shares with his array of first-call L.A. musicians is the live in-the-studio samba jam "At the Festival," which rolls smoothly for a spell before heating up with scorching solos by guitarist Mack Dougherty and keyboardist Kim Hansen. "Rio Del Soul" simmers that energy down for a sexy sunset journey featuring Cooper all smoky on the tenor, then bluesy and sassy on the harmonica. Fans of Cooper's classic new age recording Soft Wave (1987) will enjoy his lilting soprano on sweet gems like "Personal Touch," but the real party comes in the middle of the tracking when Cooper focuses solely on harmonica on the hypnotic, easily percussive "Departure" (featuring the full arsenal of soundscape instruments of co-producer Steve Reid), and the festive blues piece "Around the Corner," which pits Cooper's harmonica in a playful repartee with trumpeter Jimmy Hale. Smooth jazz had become somewhat predictable by the late 2000s, and Cooper's challenging mix worked as a nice antidote to the tried and true. It's the kind of independent project fans of the many genres represented here could truly connect with.

Biography

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s

This self-taught saxophonist has long had an interest in mixing environmental sounds with his contemporary jazz-influenced compositions to create relaxing, highly melodic musical...
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Let's Connect, Jessie Allen Cooper
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