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Take Five: The Cookers Regroup, and Andrew Cyrille Brings the News

The Cookers, "Traveling Lady"

Look Out! is a fitting title for the forthcoming sixth studio album by The Cookers, who could rival any superhero squad for extraordinary powers, esprit de corps, and a burning sense of purpose. The all-star group — with Eddie Henderson and David Weiss on trumpets, Billy Harper and Donald Harrison on saxophones, George Cables on piano, Cecil McBee on bass and Billy Hart on drums — has several centuries' worth of collective wisdom and more than a decade on the odometer as a working unit. As we recently learned, it also has two NEA Jazz Masters in the ranks (surely not the last).

WBGO is proud to premiere the second single from Look Out! — "Traveling Lady," a song that previously appeared on a HighNote album called The George Cables Songbook. A hard-bop rumination in waltz time, it features a series of estimable solos (Henderson, Harrison, Cables) driven by a ceaseless vigilance in the rhythm section (especially Hart). Don't miss the deft ensemble arranging that leads back to the melody.

Look Out! will be released on Gearbox on Sept. 24; preorder here.

Andrew Cyrille, "Leaving East of Java"

Leaving East of Java

Master drummer Andrew Cyrille released his ECM debut as a leader in 2016, when he was 76. That spellbinding album, The Declaration of Musical Independence, featured an intergenerational summit with Bill Frisell on guitar, Richard Teitelbaum on synthesizers and piano and Ben Street on bass. Cyrille had planned to reconvene this personnel in 2019, but Teitelbaum's health issues precluded it. (He died last summer, at 80.) So another brilliant pianist and keyboardist, David Virelles, subbed in on The News, which will be released on Aug. 27. This first available track from the album, a version of Adegoke Steve Colson's "Leaving East of Jordan," reveals what Virelles brings to the table; listen carefully for his contribution during a tempo-quickening section of the song, especially from 5:00 on.

The News will be released on Aug. 27 on ECM Records; preorder here.

Andrew Renfroe, "Borrowed Time"

A guitarist of versatile tone and touch, with an abiding spirit of lyricism, Andrew Renfroe has been turning heads around New York for the last five or six years. This was certainly the case at a WBGO Yamaha Salon just before the onset of lockdown last year, when he played a spellbinding acoustic set with pianist Addison Frei. Now Renfroe is poised to release his full-length debut, Run in the Storm, featuring his own compositions for a cohort with longtime compatriot Braxton Cook on alto saxophone, Taber Gable on piano and keyboards, Rick Rosato on bass, and Curtis Nowosad on acoustic and synth drums. "Borrowed Time" showcases this ensemble in a sinuous mid-tempo, with an overall effect that may remind you of Kurt Rosenwinkel's Heartcore. But Renfroe has his own personality, as a composer and a player, and it's opening up here.

Run in the Storm will be released on Aug. 27; preorder here.

Gordon Grdina & Jim Black, "Martian Kitties"

Guitarist and oud player Gordon Grdina and drummer Jim Black have some documented history together, as two-thirds of Nomad Trio (with pianist Matt Mitchell). On Martian Kitties, due out this Friday on Astral Spirits, Black and Grdina connect as a duo, with full thrashing commitment. What they share as improvisers is an attunement to radical possibility at any moment, and the expansive technical vocabulary to justify any digression. Consider the dynamic range on the title track, which opens in twitchy ferocity and closes in ringing decay, with a lot of incident packed in between.

Martian Kitties will be released Friday on Astral Spirits; preorder here.

Tom Cohen, "Minority"

He may not be a household name outside his native Philadelphia, but drummer Tom Cohen has covered a broad expanse of musical terrain over the last 45 years. His new album, My Take, hunkers down in a hard-bop vein with some hometown collaborators — including Hammond B-3 great Joey DeFrancesco and tenor saxophonist Tim Warfield, who both appear on this locomotive version of "Minority," the Gigi Gryce tune. Warfield steps up with the first solo, and then yields the floor to DeFrancesco. Then Cohen leaps in: taking two passes through the 16-bar form, before leading us home.

My Take will be released on Friday on Versa Records; preorder here.

A veteran jazz critic and award-winning author, and a regular contributor to NPR Music.