Jerome Cooper

Outer and Interactions

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As of 2001, this was, sadly, Jerome Cooper's only group album as a leader. It's a fine effort indeed. He had long contributed fascinating compositions to the Revolutionary Ensemble's records, notably "Ponderous Planets" from The People's Republic, and it's his writing that is the standout feature here. The pieces are episodic, full of incisive details, melodic, and swingingly propulsive for the most part, tightly performed by the intriguing band he assembled, including master reedist Joseph Jarman and violinist Jason Hwang. In a sense, these compositions appear to be outgrowths of his solo performances, having a rhythmic base that owes something to both contemporary minimalism and West African drumming, but the singing melodies come as a very pleasant surprise. In fact, the stirring theme of a piece like "Moments" sounds akin to some of Anthony Davis' work with his Episteme ensemble. Outer and Interactions is one of the finer group recordings to have emerged from the American avant jazz scene of the late '80s, but one that went virtually unrecognized. Highly recommended.

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