The Cook Trio
Airfare to Paris currently runs about $900. Time travel back to the 1930s? Still working on it. So, at the very least, the transporting new album Moonlight by this Central Florida jazz manouche trio is an unbelievable bargain. But the Cook Trio's third release — which features four original compositions alongside renditions of rare early-American jazz and Eastern European songs — also happens to be a delicious work of music.
In their all-string format, the backbone, stomp and horsepower come from the double bass and percussive shuffle style ("la pompe") of the rhythm guitar. But the heart of the affair is in the dizzyingly nimble guitar work of fleet-fingered Jason Cook. The combination is a dance between heady gypsy soul and freewheeling swing expression. Though the musicianship on Moonlight is unquestionably advanced, its folk stylings and invigorating bohemian heart make the songs far more rousing for those not versed in the academics of jazz. It's approachable, but not at the cost of substance.
Of the originals, the best is "Red Light," a celebratory romp with flashy, breathless guitar chops named after local beer paradise Redlight Redlight, where the trio first began performing in 2005 and still performs regularly. Other picks include the carefree playfulness of "Cou Cou" and the intricate folkisms of "Mademoiselle de Bucharest," but the star is "Ma Premiere Guitare." The only thing missing from this sensually minimal number is a partner and a dance floor. A rose, too? Sure, what the hell. Best of all, Moonlight was recorded without any overdubs or edits, so it perfectly captures their live vibrancy.
The Cook Trio's gypsy jazz has pulse and intimacy. The songs move with a sense of both romance and fun. Their vintage ambience is so well-rendered and specific that you can almost smell the smoke of Gauloises in the air. Open up that bottle — you'll want to spend some time in this firstname.lastname@example.org