Boomkat Product Review:
Incomparable bluesman Mike Cooper marks over 50 years of deadly cool and restless experimentation with a masterful melange of free jazz, Oceanic, and Hawaiian inspirations in his umpteenth hallucinatory collage
More than half a century since his 1969 debut, Mike Cooper’s music remains strikingly fresh and in a timeline of its own on ‘Black Flamingo’. The album’s vitality is largely due to Cooper’s role as a consummate collaborator, as he weaves in a panoply of UK peers and remote jams that harmonise with, as well as disrupt, his eternally imaginative and innovative style.
Intensely tarry but starry-eyed sludge like ‘Black Flamingo’ rub shoulders with cracking shots of noirish trap and slide guitar in ‘Beneath The Waves’ and mind-bending collages of sampled chants with spooling blues riffage on ‘The umbers - The Migrant Body Chorus Milan’, a skyward paean ‘The Satellites Are Spinning’ and heavy-trampling electro-dub noise in ‘Trancendence Dub’ that wouldn’t sound out of place on an imaginary Bill Laswell and Muslimgauze jam. Seriously tell us who else is making this sort of rudely disciplined racket at 80 years old?! The definition of a living legend.
“Featuring Geoff Hawkins on tenor sax. Our 60 year friendship goes back to the 1960s and my first band The Blues Committee then on through the 1970s to Trout Steel and the Machine Gun Company on the Dawn label meeting up again in the mid 1990s on my Island Songs c.d. and more recently on Oceans Of Milk and Treacle on Room40. His son Aaron Hawkins who I have known since he was born, is now a prominent figure on the Bristol music scene in the UK joins us on tenor saxophone as well. Elliott Sharp, guitarist, composer, improviser from the Downtown New York music scene. We first played together in Rome many years ago. Here on Black Flamingo Elliott plays bass clarinet. Jon Raskin, a founder member of The Rova saxophone quartet based in California surprised me one night in London by appearing in the audience at a folk club concert I gave. We also have a duo collection together.
Scot Ray, slidationist; lap steel and pedal steel guitar visionary. We have never met in the real(?) world, only on line. I am always seeking audacious players of both those instruments and Scot is a true star. Check out his own solo and other projects. Michael Thieke, a fellow part time Roman part time Berliner member of the International Nothing (great name) brings peace on the clarinet with breathy playing on this most beautiful of wind instruments. Viv Corringham has shared her voice on many past musical roads with me from Greek Rembetronika to an improvising trio with Lol Coxhill and Soundwalks in hills around Hong Kong. Tim Hill on Baritone sax. We go back to my 1980’s in Reading in the UK. Together we had Beating Time with Paul Burwell on drums and Gary Jones on bass, both sadly gone now and Mayhem Quartet with Pat Thomas on keys and Neil Palmer our improvising dj both happily still with us. Then we started Trystero System which became a floating membership duo spanning several years and has included both Viv Corringham and Pat Thomas with myself and continues from time to time.
Lastly The Migrant School of Bodies Choir was the result of a workshop in Milan for a performance/dance piece organised by choreographer/dancer Ariella Vidach. The text is each member counting from one to 26 in their own language each one starting to count after the neighbour had reached the number eight . Most of the members were from Africa and shared no common African language. The rhythmic and tonal variations set up an interesting shingling effect with the voices tumbling over one another. Collaboration, improvisation, innovation was the theme, Sun Ra socks and a Bflat hat was the key.”