“This lean, mean band plays with such swaggering conviction you'd swear they're all household names. Instead, they are: Henry Cook, who has been part of the Boston scene as both player and teacher for many years, and who plays his saxophones and flutes with exuberant vertical volatility, b:Cecil Brooks (the trumpeter, not the drummer) formerly of the Sun Ra Arkestra, a daredevil who makes action paintings in every solo, with long lines intersected by spattering runs...e: Bobby Ward, who comes from the great Boston drum tradition (Haynes, Dawson, Williams) and who's pointillistic cymbals do not so much keep time as illuminate fields of energy. Dimensional Odyssey, recorded live at the Willow, has all the pop and electricity found only on live albums. Yet Cook's group takes a disciplined approach to raising hell. Cook (on soprano) and Brooks execute the careening hairpin turns of the opening Arabesque like two formula-one cars wheel-to-wheel, then split apart to streak down separate tracks.”
Alto and soprano saxophonist and flutist Cook's Boston-based quintet is inside but almost outside. It stretches the boundaries the way Eric Dolphy and Jackie McLean did in the sixties. Drummer Bobby Ward is a local legend whose polyrhythmic commentary keeps his bandmates charged. Cook has flute chops and imagination galore as he shows on his Prayer for Bosnia and Appointment in London.
This is in fact a world-class band, a marvelously cohesive group that touches all bases to produce a sound that is strictly its own. In the aptly named Dimensional Odyssey we hear an hour of superb interaction. The compositions are by Cook, Ward and Chanier, except for Mind's Eye, a collective improvisation that speaks volumes for the talent of this group. Slip this disk into the CD player and hit the repeat button if you want to treat your ears.
The new thing is alive and well, and it seems to be still thriving in Boston's jazz scene. Now we hear the Henry Cook band that features drummer Bobby Ward absolutely tearing it up on this live recording. The music is coming out of the Sam Rivers, Andrew Hill, Charles Mingus tradition of the new 60s-ish music...The stellar group covers the rarely-attempted Charles Mingus composition Fables of Faubus but the rest of the tunes come from both Cook and Ward. The elasticity of this exciting music is greatly appreciated in today's world of mediocre jazz recordings. Ward's scorching opener, Latin Bizarre, and Cook's swinging closer, Third Rail leaves the listener wanting much, much more. Everything in between is truly new and exciting. What else can be said about artful, creative and good music, except check out their first recording, the 1994 Dimensional Odyssey. I hope to hear many more recordings by this exciting band.
It may not receive the worldwide acclaim of its Swiss namesake, but the Montreux Detroit Jazz Festival has been drawing crowds in the Motor City every summer since its inception in 1980. Boston’s Henry Cook Band was among its 1998 artist roster.The audience was probably unfamiliar with the band’s music, but judging by this recorded document, Cook & company earned a lot of new fans that Labor Day afternoon. No wonder...any ensemble that dares to tackle a Charles Mingus classic like Fables of Faubus --and succeeds in matching the bravado of the original--deserves high praise. Here, the leader offers a splendid sample of his baritone sax work, but elsewhere he proves himself equally adept on alto, as well as flute.