David Cook is a recent addition to the burgeoning young talent that's filling up the roster at Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records
, and like his new labelmates, this pianist comes to BJU Records with an abundance of experience. Already, he's worked with Lizz Wright
, Donny McCaslin
, Dennis Chambers, John Ellis, Matt Wilson
and even big-time pop stars like Justin Timberlake (speaking of pop, Mr. Cook is not to be confused with the American Idol
winner of the same name).
It was just a matter of time before Cook would find the right time to follow down the pathway of his career to a destination as a leader, and he formally made that step last December 7 with the release of his debut album called, appropriately, Pathway
. Using such a solid rhythm section as Matt Clohesy (bass) and Mark Ferber (drums), Cook signals he aims to impress the first time out.
Most jazz musicians start out interpreting standards, eventually developing a distinct style and, if they develop the knack for it, move on writing and performing their own songs. Pathway
, however, presents Cook already as a fully-formed songwriter and performer. He has a wide palette of styles in his technique and he uses them intelligently to forge a deep harmonic character that's pleasing and never fussy. Likewise, his composing approach is often deceptively easy on the ear, masking all the moving parts that make up the song; a lilting waltz like Robin's Song" for instance reveals more of itself with each listen, the mark of a really good songwriter. The downtempo ballad Idly, Ideally" exhibits his ability to manipulate the spaces between the notes, and the easygoing groove of Lullaby" builds up to a set-closing jam. The longest track Napali," attest to Cook's ability to write extended pieces that carefully modulates moods, working in a thematic bass line in tandem with Clohesy while negotiating a 7/4 rhythm with Ferber.
Other songs have a ring of sophistication as well, like the light Brazilian groove of The Meanderer" and the opener The Thing," a second line driven blues put through a modern jazz filter. Regardless of the varying ingredients Cook tosses into the pot, the songs come out tasty every time. Pathway
is an impressive debut of a jazz pianist and composer who is clearly going down the right path. With a start like this, it will be worthwhile to find where this path leads him.