Patrick Cooper - The Way It Used To Be

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. Described as a �throwback collection that puts a contemporary spin on vintage jazz funk� the latest album from keyboard player Patrick Cooper is the appropriately titled The Way It Used To Be. Indeed although achieving his goal of capturing the sound and spirit of music produced decades ago, Cooper has also used the project to show off his considerable skills as a performer, composer and producer. With a little help along the way from sax player Phillip �Doc� Martin, bass-man Martin Dyson and vocalist Nehemiah Booker he has delivered a quality body of work that effortlessly builds a bridge between the present and what has gone before.

After growing up in Portland OR, Cooper changed locations and coast lines to make a home in Washington DC where his flourishing musical career found him in collaborations with the likes of Martin, Dyson, Jackiem Joyner, Marcus Johnson and Jaared. He has shared the stage with Nick Colionne, Michael Lington and Maysa to name only a few but now, with his second solo CD, Cooper is making a pitch for solo stardom.

Evoking those times when it was still necessary for contemporary jazz to be routinely edgy, the vintage vibe that permeates much of the collection is exemplified by �Struttn�. It�s the first single to be released to radio and the way the track blends classic jazz funk with what can only be described as smooth jazz sensibilities should ensure plentiful air-play.

Less smooth and more overtly funky is �It�s OK To Move� and although Cooper takes a jazzy detour for the ultra cool �Side Steppn� its when he turns to the delicious �Next 2 U� that he finds a welcoming mid tempo vibe. The easy grooving �Come Sunday� is another brassy and inviting number but as Cooper slides further into mellow mode he conjures up the sultry �Denise� for which the luscious sax tones of Bryan Mills are right on the money. Clearly one of the album�s outstanding tunes it is in the fine company of the warm and brassy title cut where sax from Martin, bass from Dyson and some tremendous work by Cooper serves to really take you back.

However, just shading them both as Secret Garden top track is the languid urban groove of �I�m The Man�. Owing much to the wonderfully soulful vocals of Nehemiah Booker this is a song that will resonate equally with the BET generation is it will with those whose musical tastes are grounded in the past.

The Way It Used To Be will be released on July 12 and is well worth a look.

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.