Chris Cooke

Jazz host

Chris Cooke has been a voice on public radio in Omaha since 1989. Working at KVNO-FM during college, Cooke hosted a weekend progressive jazz show on the station in addition to working as an on-air announcer. In November 1992, Cooke signed on at KIOS-FM and has been there ever since. He has hosted the Tuesday and Thursday editions of Jazz in the Afternoon since 1996 and has hosted Last Call since that year. A long time fan of jazz music, Cooke enjoys talking with the musicians who make jazz music and presenting those conversations with listeners. When not hosting or listening to jazz, on record or in person, Cooke maintains a busy schedule as a self-employed web design consultant.

Email address:christopher.cooke@ops.org

Ways to Connect

Guitarist John Pizzarelli will return to Omaha in February.  Two performances with the Omaha Symphony, Thomas Wilkins, conducting, will be presented on Saturday, February 9, 2013, at 8 p.m. &  Sunday, February 10, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Holland Performing Arts Center.

This month Last Call celebrates its 17th anniversary on the air with a consideration: What is the state of the guitar in progressive jazz?  To answer that, it's helpful to review the arc of the instrument since the 1960s. Guitarists such as Wes Montgomery & Larry Coryell made very important contributions in that decade; also one must acknowledge the huge influence of rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix on jazz & the decision by many jazz artists to "plug in" during the late 1960s.

Kathy Kosins / To The Ladies of Cool / Resonance Records
Pharez Whitted / For The People /  Origin Records
Dr Lonnie Smith / The Healer / Pilgrimage Records
Bob Mintzer Big Band / For The Moment / MCG
Frank Basile / Modern Inventions / Independent
Arturo Sandoval /Dear Diz /  Concord Jazz
Steve Turre / Woody's Delight / High Note
Takuya Kuroda / Six Aces / Independent
Mike Longo Trio / Celebration of Diz and Miles / Consolidated Artists Productions
Lewis Nash Quintet / The Higher Mountain / Cellar Live

Last Call Best of 2012

Dec 8, 2012

Spending another year with you via the Last Call on Saturday nights has been a pleasure. Once again we have listened to a potpourri of compelling, adventuresome jazz artistry. Here are the highlights of 2012 as I see them based on their artistic merit:

Jazz legend  Dave Brubeck died Tuesday at age 91, one day shy of his 92nd birthday. It was the end of one of the most accomplished lives in jazz history.

Artwork by Christopher Cooke/KIOS

Last Call celebrates the 70th birthday of Jimi Hendrix.  Born November 27, 1942, Hendrix was one of the most artistically accomplished guitarists in music history. Hendrix's  style of combining feedback, fuzz and controlled distortion was a major innovation in the history of the electric guitar. Combined with technique and imagination that placed him light-years of most of the rock guitarists of the day, Hendrix's brief career as an internationally celebrated guitarist  is legendary.

Cuneiform Records continues to release some of the most daring and visionary progressive jazz recordings of our time. Two new efforts are of special interest to jazz fans.

A band well known for their fearless re-arrangements of pop classics into unpredictable jazz explorations, The Bad Plus have returned with a program that might surprise longtime listeners. The date is more accessible, more melodic than many previous Bad Plus recordings. The trio is comprised of Reid Anderson on bass, synthesizers and electronics, Ethan Iverson on piano and David King on drums.

Cornetist Rob Mazurek is an artist with a seemingly limitless ability to create musical melodies and colors. Originally from Chicago, Mazurek now resides in São Paulo, Brazil. His reputation as a progressive artist has been documented on a series of brilliant recordings and performances. This writer attended a live performance by Mazurek some years ago at the Bemis Underground in Omaha, to say that it was a profound night of music only hints at the stellar, cosmic heights of music attained that evening.

Acclaimed saxophonist Branford Marsalis will bring his quartet to the Holland Performing Arts Center on Friday evening, November 9th, at 8pm.

Branford Marsalis is a National Endowment for the Arts master, renowned three time Grammy Award®-winning saxophonist and a Tony Award® nominee composer. Instrumentalist, composer and bandleader, he is also the head of Marsalis Music, a record label founded in 2002.

David S. Ware's saxophone artistry scorched many a Saturday night of adventuresome jazz on the Last Call over the last decade plus; he took the music to the very edge and with him his eager fans.
So understandably it is with sadness that I reflect on the passing of David S. Ware. He passed away in October at the age of 62.

.Chicago based trumpeter and educator Pharez Whitted returns to the spotlight with an exciting new release, For The People. A bright, optimistic, heartfelt session, the noted trumpeter is joined by the band with which he recorded 2010's "Transient Journey":  Guitarist Bobby Broom, pianist Ron Perrillo, saxophonist Eddie Bayard, bassist Dennis Carroll, & drummer Greg Artry. The result is a bright, optimistic, heartfelt session that features a solid lineup of tunes.

Vocal instructor, performance artist and actress Rhiannon spoke with Last Call's Chris Cooke recently. In a wide ranging interview, the internationally recognized vocal artist & instructor discussed in detail jazz vocal improvisation and its place in the world of jazz. Rhiannon has released many compelling albums including the most recent "Flight", Rhiannon's interactive guide to vocal improvisation, and "Spontaneous", a collection of improvised studio and live small group music.

Return To Forever's new multidisc recording is an essential addition to any progressive jazz fans library.  Founding Return To Forever group members Chick Corea(piano, keyboards); Stanley Clarke(bass) and Lenny White(drums) are joined by Frank Gambale(guitars) and Jean-Luc Ponty(violin). Recorded on tour in 2011, this version of the band creates one magical moment after another onstage with excellent readings of RTF gems "Medieval Overture", "After the Cosmic Rain", "The Romantic Warrior", and others. A DVD is included.

Bassist Marcus Miller has released his second recording in less than a year. This one sees the veteran bassist, bandleader, sideman and famous associate of Miles Davis on a groove driven project with a number of special guests, including vocalist Gretchen Parlato.  Miller's signature bass sound is one of the most distinct in jazz, and it sets the pulse on a number of fine gems on the new disc, including "Detroit", "Slippin' into Darkness", Setembro(Brazilian Wedding Song) and "Mr. Clean".  As a 30 year veteran of the jazz scene his records have been featured frequently on Last Call.

The fusion of West African & jazz musical traditions is impeccably achieved in the latest recording from guitarist Lionel Loueke. "Heritage" creates a sonic landscape that is contemplative and graceful. Steered by the guitar artistry of Loeuke, the warmth of the program is hard to resist. Loueke's brilliant guitar and vocal work is complimented by close friend and associate Robert Glasper on keyboards, the incredibly talented drummer Mark Guilliana, bassist Derrick Hodge and guest vocalist Gretchen Parlato.

A significant trumpeter to arise in the last ten years, Christian Scott has released an ambitious new 2 CD set that heralds his new name and identity.  "Christian Atunde Adjuah" , a traditional African name that has been adopted by the trumpeter, is also the name of this latest release.  Scott says he seeks to "stretch" jazz to encompass new musical forms.  Inspired by his hometown, New Orleans, Scott paints a turbulent & passionate musical story.

Dr Lonnie Smith's immense talent on the bandstand is documented on the new disc "The Healer", on the organist's new label, Pilgrimage Productions.  Never heard him in person? This is the next best thing. Capturing the spontaneity and style transcending appeal of this accomplished organist who just turned 70, Dr. Lonnie Smith is joined by his touring band of Jonathan Kreisberg on guitar and Jamire Williams on drums. The results are nothing less than mesmerizing, check out the high intensity "Beehive" for an essential electric jazz jam that reminds one of Miles Davis's "Bitches Brew".

Brian Bromberg’s latest recording is a superb salute to Jimi Hendrix, the legendary guitarist who influenced countless musicians, including jazz artists such as Bromberg. A first listen may lead one to believe the music presented includes a guitar, but that is not the case—Bromberg played all of the guitar sounding parts on the basses that he tuned an octave and a fourth above a standard bass.  The effect is quite staggering, as Bromberg releases an arsenal of bass artistry on well known Hendrix numbers “Fire”, “Freedom”, “Purple Haze”, and other classics.

Get ready for the electric trombone artistry of Oscar Utterstrom. His latest recording, Departure, is one of the finest electric jazz recordings to be released in the last several years.

From a veteran rock & jazz drummer and his long standing band, this date really cooks. A CD + DVD package allows the listener to totally enjoy the recorded experience, from 2007 with band members keyboardist Tom Coster, bassist Baron Browne and, guitarist Vinny Valentino, and drummer Steve Smith. Sustained energy and creative interplay persist throughout the recording, featuring adventuresome numbers, "Cat Walk", "Time Tunnel", "Interwoven Rhythms-Synchronus" and a straight ahead burner, "Jimmy Jive".

NPR Music will provide coverage of the 2012 Newport Jazz Festival on August 4th and 5th. You can watch live video of the performances at www.npr.org/music. Among those scheduled to perform are Pat Metheny, Bill Frissell, Dianne Reeves, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Maria Schneider Orchestra and Jason Moran. The full schedule can be seen at the web site.

Last Call Notes

Jul 30, 2012

Strong new recordings from well known guitarists Pat Metheny and Mike Stern will be featured this month. We will also present a new disc from Japanese jazz trumpeter deserving much wider recognition, Shunzo Ohno.

One of the finest recordings of 2012,  The Vijay Iyer Trio's "Accelerando" has been recognized throughout the jazz world as an exceptional effort from one of the most compelling pianists on today's jazz scene. A major milestone for the pianist has been the winning of multiple categories in the 2012 Downbeat Critics Poll.  Critics have voted Vijay Iyer as Jazz Artist Of The Year, Top Pianist and Rising Star Composer.  The Vijay Iyer Trio was also voted the best jazz group of the year, and Accelerando won top Jazz Album.

A prolific recording artist,  drummer Matt Wilson has appeared on over 250 records. Touring and performing worldwide,  he  performed recently at the Iowa City Jazz Festival with Mumbo Jumbo: A Tribute To Paul Motian.

Tenor saxophonist Virginia Mayhew celebrates the  100th year anniversary of the birth of Mary Lou Williams  with new arrangements of eight Williams compositions, including "What's You Story, Morning Glory?", material from the "Zodiac Suite",  plus two new compositions by Virginia inspired by the legendary pianist.

Chick Corea is one of the major pioneers of fusion. "No musician has used the fusion concept with more variety, intelligence and unimpeachable taste than Chick Corea," wrote Len Lyons, a longtime jazz author and critic, in his book "The 101 Best Jazz Albums." Corea worked with the Miles Davis Ensemble during the sessions that produced the legendary recordings In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew, in addition to birthing several successful fusion bands including Corea's Return to Forever.

Remembering Pete Cosey

Jun 9, 2012

Pete Cosey, a Chicago guitarist who was known for his work with the Miles Davis band from 1973-1975, passed away on May 30th. He was 68. Cosey's intense, roaring guitar work fed through wah-wah distortion was a important part of the Miles Davis sound of the mid 1970s.

Tribute albums are a plenty these days to legends in jazz. These discs have varying degrees of quality and artistic sincerity. Without question Arturo Sandoval’s latest disc is at an extremely high level of accomplishment in any regard. The heartfelt nature of the project no doubt drives the effort.

 

An artist with roots in the Midwest, Rhiannon is one of a handful of vocalists who can successfully explore totally improvised music.  Her latest recording, Spontaneous, is a good introduction to her immense talents. Together with Abraham Laboriel, electric basses; Alex Acuna, drums and percussion, Otmaro Ruiz, acoustic piano and Jetro Da Silva, acoustic piano and keyboards, the ensemble (also named Spontaneous) creates magic. "Breath", "Multitudes" and "Drop of Rain" are profound experiences of music beyond predictability.

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