Serving the San Francisco Bay Area New Music Community

Artist Cooke Quintet
Title an indefinite suspension of the possible
Label Black Hat Records - BH-1004 -
Released On 3/1/2007

When a person studies and plays music, he or she will eventually encounter long-standing and traditional rules to follow. If that person is making music in a jazz style, there is usually an additional, and specific, set of rules. It is not news that some historians and critics are emphatic that these rules should consistently be followed in order for music to be made often to the exclusion of new rules, or modes of thinking, being born. This, of course, is fine for historical music, but an artist convinced of the necessity for exploration will inevitably, and unabashedly, create new rules and directions for him or herself. In order to do this, however, an artist must be willing to venture into that place where criticism is heavy, and the possible is often deemed impossible or unacceptable.

Its true that for a long time I thought this particular project was impossible. In fact, it took four years to find the right mix of musicians to realize what I hope Ive captured here in this recording. I know it wouldnt have been possible without them. Shoko Hikage, on koto, is a fearless musician and improviser. Her musical ethos was a perfect fit for this configuration. Classically trained cellist and composer Alex Kelly, who appeared on my last recording, was again a key element in the production of this music. Drummer Timothy Orr's creative blurring of freedom and tradition was an essential foundation for the rest of the musicians. Lastly, Jen Baker's expansive sounds and musical intuition on trombone were the final ingredient to help us, as a unit, establish our own boundaries and destinations.

This CD is available from Black Hat Records, Cadence and CDBaby.

Hard 8

This performance is the result of experimenting with an octatonic scale (which utilizes eight notes instead of seven). I love how this scale can yield major, minor, and diminished triads. We like to play this one fast.

Ha-Me'aggel (one who draws circles)

This piece has four sections that can be played in any order a form known as circle music. The melodies in the piece were written using a Klezmer scale, which made me think of the story of Onias (Honi) Ha-Me'aggel, a first century Jewish scholar who drew a circle and placed himself in the center of it, praying for rain and whose prayers were mysteriously and immediately answered.


My grandmothers, The Two Ruths, were (and continue to be) a big source of support for me. Ruth Whitmore showed me the world, and Ruth Baumann was my biggest fan. They both passed during the recording of this project. The series of duets here is meant as a reflection of their absence in my life.

Love at Twilight

There is a Northern Indian raga called a shree, which is played at twilight. This piece uses elements of this raga, and mixes in other elements namely a Tuvan instrument called an igil. Listen to how Jen Bakers trombone mimics a Tuvan throat singer.

N 36 7.46' W121 38.35'

Blair Peterman was one of my best friends in high school. He played the clarinet and was a talented photographer. His life was unfortunately cut short by a fatal seizure that occurred in his sleep. His ashes were then divided between his father and his mother. His father remembered that Blair loved a particular spot in Northern California N 36 7.46' W121 38.35' ending up being the exact coordinates so he, along with myself and a group of friends, went there to spread his ashes.

Harmonic Rebellion

This piece uses a three-note cell for its structure. We restricted ourselves to these three notes for the first part of the performance to establish a base for creating multiphonic and harmonic sounds. A second section expands the three notes into a mode, which is based on a harmonic minor scale but with an augmented 4th.

Chain of Existence (An Event Sequence)

Life is an inexplicable and humbling chain of events. This piece, a chain of sorts, reflects three significant personal events connected together by two interludes. I hope the music, without my having to explain it, can illustrate the extent these events made an impression on me. The first event has a primitive, or nascent, feel to it, where one can hear cajon and didgeridoo. The next event is an energy piece based on a simple melody. The last event is a solemn invocation where the tenor speaks to memories of the past.