"Promise Highway" review by J. Talylor
"Blue Voodoo" CD review
The Mark Cook Project
Wendster Records / Mec Jetlag
BY PETER "BLEWZZMAN" LAURO, © APRIL, 2006
Just about a week ago, I did a review of a CD from a band called BLUE VOODOO, now here I am doing a review of a CD, by THE MARK COOK PROJECT, called "BLUE VOODOO". Is this a coincidence or should I be expecting to receive a doll called BLUE VOODOO soon? Hmmmm!
I must admit that when MARK COOK contacted me recently and asked if I'd give his latest release a listen, I was ECSTATIC! I immediately thought back to one of his prior releases that I had reviewed in 2003 and found myself hoping that this new disc would be as good as that one was. As a matter of fact, it was that earlier release - "AN EVENING WITH THE BLUES" - that won the very first BLEWZZY, the award we give annually to Blewzzman's favorite CD of all the CD's reviewed that year.
As Mark usually does, when he assembled this band, he chose from some of the finest musicians in his area, and he chose a lot of them. His ensembles are generally the size of a small audience. Hence the word "PROJECT". The members of this MARK COOK PROJECT, in alphabetical order, are: MIKE BARRY, trumpet; CHUCK BITHORN, percussion; ANDREW BLACK, vocals; MARK COOK, guitar, bass and keyboards; WENDY COOK, porch board; HEAVEN DAVIS, vocals; TOM GIBSON, trombone; LARRY GRIFFITH, vocals; LOLA GULLEY, vocals; JOEY HUFFMAN, B3 organ, STEVE MAYS, bass; BOB MOBLEY, B3 organ and piano; SEAN O'ROURKE, drums; STEVE RUSIN, harmonica; RIC SEYMOUR, vocals; SAM SKELTON, alto, tenor and baritone saxes; TIM YOUNG, bass.
"BLUE VOODOO" is a very tasteful and versatile mix of Funk, Soul, R&B, Roots Blues, Blues Rock, Big Band Blues and good old straight up, lowdown Chicago Blues. The disc contains 15 excellent tracks of which all lyrics and music were written, produced, recorded and mixed by MARK COOK. Amazing!
Although it will be difficult to not name them all, here are some of the tracks that particularly got my mojo working.
If you've got any speakers near a smoke alarm, be very careful as the opening track, "NO ONE LIKES A GOOD WOMAN (WHEN SHE'S DOWN)", comes on. This one's very hot and full of fiery funk. The rhythm section of SEAN, TOM and JOEY is rippin', the horns of SAM, MIKE and TOM are howlin', STEVE'S harmonica's hummin' and LOLA's vocals is the fuse that sets it all off.
There's no indication of anyone letting up, as the heat continues to spread into the next track, "GONNA FLY THE COOP". This one features ANDREW singing his heart out and mixing in lots scintillating scat. The horn section, once again - and as usual - are right there, and MARK and BOBBY are tearing up the guitar and keyboards. What a hell of a one-two punch for opening tracks.
"MOONLIGHT BLUES" brings things down a bit, but certainly not in quality - only in tempo. Once again, LOLA is featured on the vocals but this time she's belting out some good old down home blues, and damn can she belt it out. As you'd expect, there are lots of great blues guitar licks by MARK.
"BACK TO TENNEESSEE", is a very Sonny Terry & Brownee McGhee / Cephas & Wiggins sounding roots blues track which is all about STEVE on harmonica and LARRY on down home vocals.
"DON'T PULL ME DOWN" is another one of those tracks that everyone's tearing it up on, with RIC, one of a slew of excellent vocalists who have sung on this disc, leading the way. MARK, STEVE & JOEY are at their best on guitar, harp and organ.
"TOMORROW'S COME AND GONE", is a steamy and sultry vocal virtuoso performance by HEAVEN & LARRY. This wonderfully done 5 minute track added 75 minutes on this review because I literally listened to it 15 times over. It's songs like this that create a need for "Song of the Year Awards".
"BLUE VOODOO" is the musical comparison to the sky on a very clear and cloudless night....IT'S FULL OF STARS. Never have I listened to a CD and been this impressed with each and every performer. It breaks my heart to know that there are such talented people doing such talented things and the masses will never know about it. On the other hand, I'm thankful that I am one of the those that do.
Purchase a copy of "Blue VooDoo" directly from us by clicking HERE
You can visit Mark Cook on the web at: www.markcookmusic.com/
"Promise Highway" CD review - (Bluesrockers)
"Vintage Guitar" magazine CD review
Mark Cook – An Evening With The Blues
"An Evening With The Blues" wins award
As the genres legends continue to age, the task of keeping the BLUES alive is becoming more and more difficult. The music's youth movement needs for some of these young bloods to step forward and carry on the music. I believe that MARK COOK could just be one of them. When I review a CD, the caliber of this one, it does my heart good knowing that the blues will not die off with the legends. On "AN EVENING WITH THE BLUES," this very talented young man not only wrote all of the lyrics and music, but he also plays both guitar and bass on most of the songs. In addition to that, he also produced, engineered, mixed and arranged the complete CD in his self built studio. His talent does not stop there either. With the use of many the finest players in his area, he shows an extraordinary talent for recognizing talent. (Please see the listing below for all of the musical credits.) Someone needs to discover this gift to the music world real fast. It would be a downright shame should the masses not have the pleasure of experiencing the many and extraordinary musical talents of MARK COOK
It's no wonder why the organization called JUST PLAIN FOLKS (a community of over 25,000 Songwriters, Recording Artists, Music Publishers, Record Labels, Performing Arts Societies, Educational Institutions, Recording Studios and Engineers, Producers, Legal Professionals, Publicists and Journalists, Publications, Music Manufacturers and Retailers and about every other type of member of the Music Industry) picked MARK COOK'S "AN EVENING WITH THE BLUES", and his follow up release - "THE PROMISE HIGHWAY" as the "Best Blues Albums Of The Year" (2001 & 2002).
As I attempt to name my favorite cuts on the CD, I may just mention them all. The first three songs all feature TOM MCFARLAND on vocals and can this man sing the blues. "ALL YOUR LOVIN" is a real nice shuffle with the horn section doing a real great job. "NASTY OLD FEELING" is my idea of the perfect kind of a blues song - in your face scorching guitar and sax, with real soulful lyrics. "BAD REPUTATION" once again features some excellent vocals.
"FADED MEMORY" and "IT'S YOUR SWEET LOVE", two songs that show the sensitive side of the author, have some very emotional and heartwarming lyrics while "LET IT GO" and "DON'T LET ME HOLD YOU BACK" were two very jazzy, big band blues type cuts that had me dancing in my seat. "IM WALKING" which features some great harmonica playing by STEVE RUSIN, pretty much rounds out what I consider to be the highlights on this highlight of a CD. Good job MARK, this effort definitely puts you in the running for a "BLEWZZY"
Musicians Appearing on this cd:
Vocals: Tom McFarland, Dave Kyle, John Henderson
Backup Vocals: DaRon Washington
Baritone Sax: Sally Russell
Bass: Andy Engle
Drums: Chuck Hill, Brad Dart
Guitar, Bass, Organ, Keyboard, Strings: Mark Cook
Harmonica: Steve Rusin
Keyboards: Rob Steidel
National Steel Guitar: Dave Kyle
Organ: Don Zlaty
Percussion: David Hunt
Piano: Kenneth Fary
Tenor, Baritone and Alto Sax, Organ: Don Zlaty
Trombone: Randy Mitchell
Trumpet: Gary Turner, Larry Powell
Purchase Mark Cook's "An Evening With The Blues" directly from us: Click To Purchase
You can visit Mark Cook on the Web at: www.markcookmusic.com/