Jerome Cooper/Thomas Buckner - alone, together, apart

Jerome Cooper & Thomas Buckner
Alone, Together, Apart

Jerome Cooper has accompanied many of the big names of free jazz, but this reviewer's chief previous encounter with the percussionist was on one of Anthony Braxton's best records, New York, Fall 1974. Cooper's playing on that date stands out for its uniquely light but driving touch. His work on this new CD has the same qualities, although Cooper spends only a fraction of the disc on drumset, moving to keyboard, hand and mallet percussion and "tonal rhythm activator" for long stretches. Thomas Buckner's voice on this set of live duo improvisations delves into low groans, high cries and semi-operatic stylings, but steers clear of harshness. The brief final cut, "All Out," makes comic use of a canned rhythm pattern, but otherwise this is meditative music-the titles ("Evocation," "Journey," "Return") give a strong suggestion of what their intentions were, and what they achieved. Avoiding poking and prodding, Cooper and Buckner work alongside one another patiently, on the same wavelength. - Pat Buzby, Signal to Noise, Summer 2003