April 28, 2009

Joyce Cooling - Global Cooling

Welcome to the latest issue of Denis Poole’s Secret Garden, the page that offers a personal perspective on the very best from the world of smooth jazz and classic soul. There is little doubt that San Francisco based guitarist Joyce Cooling has the monopoly on the kind of tight mid tempo smooth jazz that will always find an audience. Known for both her unique finger picking style and her passion for rhythm and harmony, the collaborations she has long enjoyed with writing partner Jay Wagner have signposted her career and now she is back with her brand new release, the cleverly titled Global Cooling.

Written entirely by Cooling and Wagner, this sumptuous eleven track collection which Wagner also produces is a mouth-watering creation of some of the best smooth jazz cuts you will hear this year and as one delicious number after the other comes rolling by the feeling is one of tremendous warmth. It is music that is special on many fronts, not least of which being the infectious rhythms of many complexions that Wagner expertly weaves into the majority of the songs. In fact at times his touches are nothing short of incredible and a wonderful example of his art is the one minute and twenty four seconds of ‘In The Streets’. This play-out track draws from the title of the earlier (and Jobim-esque) ‘What We Are Waiting For’ (where Cooling excels on vocals) and converts it into a totally rhythm driven chant that evokes a street carnival in Rio or the buzz of an expectant audience at a stadium gig. Equally memorable is the distinctly Middle Eastern beat of ‘Cobra’ that provides an exotic backdrop to Cooling’s urgent yet perfectly smooth playing. Again the rhythm is intoxicating and acts as a prelude to the crazy percussive extravaganza that is ‘We Can’. With Cooling’s quirky spoken word segments and innovative world influences this is indeed a ‘one of a kind’ tune. Cooling keeps the tempo spicy for the Brazilian tinged ‘Delores In Pink’ where drummer Celso Alberti really excels and when Tower of Power drummer David Garibaldi takes over for ‘Rhythm Kitchen’ his interplay with bass player Nelson Braxton (of the Braxton Brothers) ensures a groove that shimmers with the country of Nashville and the blues of the Delta.

Despite its nod to the Tango, ‘The Red Rose’ carries with it a distinctly Parisienne flavor which, in no small part, is due to magnificent accordion from Wagner. Cooling’s playing remains smoothly mellow throughout and when she switches to vocals for the quirkily funky ‘Chit Chat’ the fine use of horns overlays the whole piece with a velvety veneer. She stays in top vocal form for the delightfully mid tempo ‘Save This Dance For Me’ and the pent up urgency of the title tune delivers rhythm and melody by the spade full. Its clearly one of the album’s top tracks but just shading it as the Secret Garden favorite cut is the breathtaking ‘Grass Roots’. Wagner is his usual superb self on keys and as more luscious horns combine with Cooling’s tight playing the result is truly memorable.

As with her 2006 CD Revolving Door she is denoting a portion of all sales from Global Cooling to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As she explains, “just by buying a copy of the CD, you've donated!” For all the latest news go to www.joycecooling.com. For information on the National Alliance on Mental Illness check out www.nami.org.

Do you have any comments on what you have found in this edition of the Secret Garden? If so please e-mail me on DenisPoole2000@Yahoo.com.

Posted by Denis Poole at April 28, 2009 9:30 PM