CD Review: Mood Swings – John Morrison and Jacki Cooper

Mood Swings – John Morrison and Jacki Cooper
Independent release, JCJM001, 2009
Review by Victoria Nugent

From the very first notes, the most recent collaboration between married duo John Morrison and Jacki Cooper captured my attention with its skilful instrumentals and bold vocals.

Renowned as the leader of Swing City, Australia’s premier big band, and brother of legendary jazz trumpeter, James Morrison, John Morrison shows off his drumming talent on Mood Swings. Vocalist Jacki Cooper won the 2010 Musicoz award for best Jazz/ Classical artist, and has a unique voice that is strong, clear and owes something to many of the jazz divas who came before her.

Mood Swings is the duo’s second collaborative album, born out of a trip to the USA where they spend time with jazz legend Bob Dorough in New York. Tim Fisher on piano, Karl Dunnicliff on double bass and Mark Taylor on flute and saxophone round out the sound, which is reminiscent of old style jazz, covering a range of jazz classics, as well as one of Jacki’s originals, ‘Play Me’.

‘You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To’ starts off the album nicely, doing justice to the Cole Porter hit with crisp sounding drums, some cheerful flute, deep sombre bass, fantastic improve piano which ranges from attention grabbing solo work to subtle undertones.

‘Honeysuckle Rose’ has a great swing with jaunty piano, fast drums and energetic scatting. Cooper’s scatting is quite as good as elsewhere on the album, but the song’s strong finish more than makes up for it. The piano shines once again in Everyday, smooth, talented and perfectly complementing Cooper’s slow, melodious vocals.

Cooper’s original, ‘Play Me’, is a song that makes an impact with its pure sensuality and slow but infectious rhythm. Cooper’s vocals are full and harmonious and the song’s slow piano would fit in nicely in a smoky jazz lounge.
Another sensual slow-burner comes in the form of ‘Sugar’, which features plucky bass, energetic piano and a talented section of scatting from Cooper.

‘Mockingbird’ is one of the most captivating songs of the album with a definite soul feel imbued through its upbeat sax, almost husky vocals and relentless swing.

The album finishes up with a departure from its established style, with the subtle, floating sounds of ‘Echoes of Ellington – In A Sentimental Mood’, which could be described as a jazz lullaby, with mystical, non-lyrical vocals, and great instrumental layering.

Mood Swings makes for great dinner jazz, with each song built on the solid foundation of Morrison and Cooper’s talent. Overall, this is a thoroughly enjoyable listen with great tonal qualities, subtle yet talented drumming, expressive vocals and a great range of instrumentation.

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