Author: Smith, Calvin
Date published: October 1, 2010
Journal code: HRNC
Chamber Wind Music of Jack Cooper. Daniel Phillips, horn; Luis Bonilla, trombone; Chris Parker, piano; Pablo Bilbraut, Latin percussion; Paul Haar, saxophone; Michael Waldrop, drums; David Spencer, trumpet; Ben Lewis, trumpet; John Mueller, trombone and euphonium; Kevin Sanders tuba; Cedric Mayfield, clarinet; Oksana Poleshook, piano. Centaur Records CRC 3027. Timing 63:30. Recorded November 13, 2007; March 17 & December 19, 2008; March 9 & 17 and June 2, 2009 at Harris Concert Hall at the University of Memphis Rudi E. Scheldt School of Music, Memphis TN.
All compositions are by Jack Cooper. Sonata for Trombone; Sonata for Saxophone, Five Scenes for Brass Quintet, Sonata for Clarinet, One of the Missing (for those lost in Iraq).
This CD contains a wide assortment of solo works for trombone, saxophone, clarinet, euphonium, and a brass quintet by University of Memphis composer, Jack Cooper. The brass quintet is performed by the Memphis Brass Quintet, Daniel Phillips, horn. The Five Scenes are: Fanfare; Somberly; Fugue; Shapes, Forms, Shadows; and Afro-Latin. Cooper states that the "piece draws a diverse set of musical elements together so to show off the capabilities of the Memphis Brass Quintet." While the highly accomplished Memphis Brass Quintet does indeed show of much skillful playing, after repeated hearings of the music I think their fine playing may be in vain. The Fives Scenes are certainly diverse, but the diversity doesn't seem to coalesce into a unified whole. Each member of the quintet displays considerable skill in technical, expressive, and ensemble performance. An impressive passage in the second movement gives hornist Daniel Phillips ample opportunity to show off his lyric ability.
I have no knowledge of the recording hall's characteristics or the miking used for this recording, but I would have enjoyed a warmer, fuller sound from each of the instruments instead of the rather direct sound that I heard. This should not diminish your enjoyment of this CD. Surprisingly of all of the compositions on this CD I most enjoyed One of the Missing (for those lost in Iraq), soulfully performed by John Mueller on euphonium. To me, it had the most musical depth and expressive qualities. Maybe it should be a horn solo! CS