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Simply Natural

Carla Cook

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Album Review

Simply Natural is the name of Carla Cook's third release on MaxJazz and aptly describes her approach to singing. Her diverse range and vocal style has garnered her several awards and top billing on the concert and festival circuit throughout the world including performances with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. This collection of songs provides a vehicle for her reinterpretation of such jazz compositions as Duke Ellington's obscure gems "Tulip or Turnip" and "Something 'Bout Believing." Cook contributes two gems of her own, the title track "Simply Natural" — a beautiful piece that features two highly creative solos from pianist Cyrus Chestnut. He sets a cool fire underneath the meter changes, harmonic rhythm, and phrasings offered by the vocalist. "Still Gotta Thing for You," a mid-tempo blues with Cook's vocals overdubbed as background vocals, and a sonic update from Chestnut on Fender Rhodes, is still relevant today even though she wrote it in 1992. The closing song, "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," swings and brilliantly spotlights the techniques she uses to construct phrases. Overall, with the accompaniment of such great musicians as Bruce Barth on piano, Kenny Davis on electric and acoustic basses, and Billy Kilson on drums, Cook serves her listeners 11 coherent musical statements that tend to satisfy both the intellectual and emotional needs of artistic creation with a refreshing rhythmic variety.

Biography

Born: Detroit, MI

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s

Based in New York but originally from Detroit, Carla Cook is an earthy yet sophisticated jazz singer who has strong R&B leanings. For Cook, being a jazz singer doesn't mean being a jazz purist or a jazz snob—there are elements of R&B, blues and gospel in her singing, and she is willing to put a jazz spin on songs that weren't written by jazz, traditional pre-rock pop or Tin Pan Alley composers. When it comes to popular music, some jazz vocalists limit themselves to the great Tin Pan...
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