Loyal Returns

SSC1656 2023-04-21

Track List

The Flaw (In My Business Model) - 3:33
Hawks - 7:07
Blues In Muri - 6:19
St. Lawrence - 3:50
Visitor From Everywhere - 1:25
Party Song - 4:38
Loyal Returns - 6:39
Brighter Places - 4:10
Night Circle - 4:07


David Cook - piano
Ben Wendel - tenor saxophone
Philip Dizack - trumpet
Matt Clohesy - bass
Kendrick Scott - drums

The life of a professional musician typically requires stretching beyond a single genre to insure a healthy career. Pianist David Cook is a jazz pianist and composer of the highest order. He also wears another hat as a musical director in the realms of pop, folk, and blues. Returning to jazz and his incredible quintet is as much a pleasure for him as for his listeners, as heard on his new recording, Loyal Returns.

Originally from Ohio, Cook settled in New York City in 1999. His career in music has required him to split his time between his own jazz related projects and being a musical director for big name acts like Taylor Swift, Shoshana Bean, and Shayna Steele. Even with all these divergent tasks, Cook remains true to first love: jazz.

The pianist takes inspiration from the entirety of the jazz canon but has been particularly attracted toward blending the classic quintet sounds of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers with the sounds of more contemporary practitioners, like Kneebody and Fred Hersch’s quintet. Cook’s music therefore blends straight ahead with a certain ethereal, through composed feel, with a groove ever present.

For Loyal Returns, Cook looks to his quintet whose core was central to his last two recordings on the Brooklyn Jazz Underground label. Cook enlists the group’s tenor saxophonist and longtime friend, Ben Wendel, as producer for the new recording. Wendel’s expertise in arranging and structuring helps the band sound even better.

The rest of the group is an astounding assembly of New York’s finest players. Trumpeter Philip Dizack is a more recent collaborator whose accuracy and adventurousness are ideal for the spirit of Cook’s music. Bassist Matt Clohesy is one of Cook’s longest friends and is the glue to the ensemble. Drummer Kendrick Scott’s painterly touch and exquisite rhythm prove that he is one of the best drummers in the world.

Writing for quintet is a challenge that Cook enjoys confronting. The addition of two horns, which are equally important to the music as the rhythm section, requires that the composer understand the ranges of the instruments along with the personalities of their players. Whereas Cook would generally write pieces with the piano in mind, on these pieces he tends to think horn first. Cook’s goals were to write pieces that tell a story while allowing space for the quintet members to express their voices freely.

The writing of the pieces was helped tremendously by a weeklong stay at Stephan Diethelm’s studio in Muri, Switzerland when Cook was between tours with Lizz Wright and Shayna Steele. Cook recorded the material with the quintet, along with engineers Chris Benham and Nate Wood, at Big Orange Sheep studio in Brooklyn.