This is Gloria Cooper's debut CD as a leader. She has put together a group of songs that have that cool Jazz, mellow relaxed feeling. Not only does "Day by Day" contain standards that are tried and true "war-horses," but also a selection of seldom heard, true Jazz compositions written by some of America's finest musicians.
Gloria has had a lot of experience as a singer/pianist, as this CD plainly shows. Flowing smoothly is a great rhythm section consisting of Ron McClure on bass and Yoron Israel on drums. The added touch of Eddie Henderson's trumpet gives this recording vibrancy and energy.
"Day by Day," the title of Gloria's CD and also the opening number, is the first of three standard selections composed by Sammy Cahn. Gloria phrases differently on this beautiful standard. She scats and gives a relaxed rendition of the head. The trumpet adds a lot to this piece, backing up the singing. "You Know What I Mean" is an original blues that's played as a piano trio and shows off Gloria's chops. Gloria produces a big band sound on the piano, reminding me of the styling's of a Jazz organist. The ballad "Fools Rush In" is played as a bossa with an easy, relaxed feel.
ccompanying herself is Gloria's strong suit. With a lot of two-handed chords, her piano solo flows along naturally. After the out-chorus, the band vamps on a groove for a cool ending. "As I Live and Breathe" is really a great piece, composed by Kenny Dorham, and a lot of feeling goes into presenting it. The tune starts simply with just piano and voice. Adding the rhythm section on the 2nd chorus gives it depth. Gloria sings Rodgers & Hart's "I Didn't Know What Time it Was" as a medium swing with a definitive rhythm during the head. The trumpet solo is very relaxed, and the piano comps nicely with two-handed chords. Her solo stays laid-back. The ending is clean and arranged with rhythmic kicks. "I Fall in Love Too Easily" has a beautiful opening, and the trumpet fills very sensitively. Gloria's singing is sincere, the timbre of her voice is pleasing to the ear and her phrasing is convincing. The trumpet solo is reminiscent of Miles. The piano solo is thoughtful, using echoes, rolled chords, grace notes, quarter note triplets and other pianist techniques. The medium swing tune, "Sweet and True," written by Curtis Fuller, has a positive, uplifting mood, while Curtis Lundy's "Orange Blossoms in Summer Time" has a very dreamy effect. "You Know Who," a swing tune composed by Bertha Hope, emphasizes Gloria's voice and her laid-back feel on the piano. "You'd Be so Nice to Come Home to" features trumpet and drums. Gloria's phrasing on the head is unusual for this Cole Porter standard. "I'll Never Stop Loving You" is a sentimental and pretty ballad. Gloria's voice is genuine and agreeable. The piano solo stays in that quiet ballad feel but builds up with quarter note triplets. "Come Sunday" is a ballad version of the famous piece by Duke Ellington.
Gloria Cooper grew up in Missouri and began playing the piano at the age of 5. She attended the University of Missouri where she earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in voice. Cooper spent the years of 1972-1988 in San Francisco where she played in the house band at the Jazz Workshop and worked for 12 years at the Hyatt on Union Square. Some of the musicians she collaborated with were Herb Gibson, Eddie Henderson, Michael Howell, Eddie Harris, Red Holloway, David "Fathead" Newman, and Jimmy Witherspoon.
Cooper moved to New York in 1988, where she earned a doctorate in music and education from Teacher's College-Columbia University in 1992. She recently completed a 4-year engagement at the New York Renaissance Hotel in a jazz duo with bassist Don Moore. Gloria not only coaches aspiring singers as an Assistant Professor at Long Island University but also has accompanied such Jazz greats as Gloria Lynne.
I asked Gloria which pianists influenced her. She said "I love Count Basie, Red Garland, and Errol Garner. I like the idea of mixing it up, putting some different songs in there besides standards, including other kinds of material written by jazz musicians." Her favorite singers are Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Irene Kral, Anita O'Day, and Shirley Horn, among others.
The composers on this album: Curtis Fuller, Bertha Hope, and Curtis Lundy show us that there is a great resource of living musicians that is largely untapped, a creativity that is bursting for outlets. In addition, Gloria chose a piece by Kenny Dorham, who was not only a great trumpet player but also composed a large body of work, including "As I Live and Breathe."
Day by Day has character in the expressions of a cool jazz singer who accompanies herself. Cooper can play with a band and be a leader. In an area of music performance (the singer/pianist) where the truly talented are few and far between, Gloria Cooper is a standout.
by Lucy Galliher
Gloria Cooper's Day by Day is available at Jazz Now Direct CD Store
To visit Gloria Cooper's WEB site, click her name.
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