The Cookers Quintet: The Path

Canadian quintet, named after a mid-60s Freddie Hubbard album, gives an convincing and enjoyable take on hard bop


This is the fourth album from Toronto-based band The Cookers Quintet (TCQ). They mustn’t be confused with the US jazz supergroup The Cookers (Harper, Harrison and Hart et al), but just like The Cookers, TCQ take their name from Night Of The Cookers, Freddie Hubbard’s 1965 LP. That inspiration signals the sort of music they like to play – namely their take on 1960s hard bop.

The Path follows TCQ Volume One (released in 2014), TCQ Volume Two (2015) and TCQ Volume Three (2016). All eight tracks are originals penned by the band’s core members – two by bassist Alex Coleman and three each by tenor saxophonist Ryan Oliver and trumpeter Tim Hamel. It’s music inspired by the likes of Horace Silver, Hank Mobley and Dexter Gordon.

Pianist Bernie Senensky and drummer Joe Poole toured with the band last year in order to pilot these new tunes to live audiences and they guest on this release. Senensky, of whom Bill Evans said “I could listen to him play all day”, has worked with Art Blakey, Art Pepper and Elvin Jones while Poole has drummed for Curtis Fuller, Ernestine Anderson and Marcus Belgrave.

Oliver’s versatility on tenor saxophone spans the range from muscular blowing to soft and subtle while Hamel on trumpet can swop instantly from a brawny, pulsating delivery one minute to the light and lyrical the next. All the while Coleman is ultra solid on bass and keeps the band grounded.

If you’re into hard bop impeccably played and including original material by seasoned musicians, this should be right down your street.

Undisputed; In The Paint; Summit; The Path; Blues Down The Stairs; Pockets; Canyon; Don’t Look Now (51.55)
Ryan Oliver (ts); Tim Hamel (t); Bernie Senensky (p); Alex Coleman (b); Joe Poole (d). Vancouver, 23 October 2021.
Do Right Music