Smooth Jazz is such a diverse term in this category that one hesitates to characterize it, however to compose and create in it becomes a euphoric event for some. Such must have been the case for Jessie Allen Cooper as Cooper Sound Waves offers "Sound Travels", an instrumental splendor bonding with a vast array of musicals styles. From new age to funky blues-rock, Cooper’s talents are released to travel out side the rules and regulations of traditional composition. Versatile at times, imaginative always, it consistently keeps the listener’s attention.
Cooper, a multi-talented artist, invites the listener to enjoy a plethora of exhilarating sounds. One finds him, from cut to cut, drifting to different methods and techniques, giving the effect that one is traveling from culture to conquest, experiencing the sophistication of what the world has to offer through sound and composition. This is truly evident as you listen to the Middle Eastern flavored, "Awakening".
Cooper also allows us the experience of numerous talents from the jazz world. Percussionist, Steve Reid, guitarists Jack Majdecki and Ira Ingber, and bassist Vail Johnson just to set the stage. As you look through the list, it’s a very impressive cast of characters and all contribute heavily to the success of this project.
Sometimes the end is where one has to start a journey, such is the case as the final cut "Tranquility" a wonderful piece of sound mixture and gentle tones. Cooper, with his soprano sax gingerly touches you every step of the way with a hint of bass as your guide. Notice if you will the effects throughout the piece, which offers a higher level to the cut.
Smooth jazz takes center stage with "Ballad of an Artist". Keep a sharp ear open as the hint of trumpet comes through as it converses with the sax: a very interesting discussion. At times you can get the true feel of what Cooper is trying to get across, at times the ballad appears to be weeping for the artist, then again it offer hints as it may be a celebration of life. It is what it is, to the listener at that time in their life. Very cool!
This entire project has "appeal to the masses" written all over it. Cooper and band along with Cooper Sound Waves have made a statement with the 2004 release of Sound Travels. Cooper has made smooth jazz go places never before traveled, as will you when you give this assortment a good ear! Karl Stober is an international freelance columnist and broadcaster who can be reached at
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