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Soul Prayers

Artist: Alex Coke
Alex Coke - Soul Prayers CD
Label: Soul Prayer
Regular Price: $13.95
On Sale For: $6.98 
Year: 2002
Format: CD


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As pillars of the Austin jazz scene, pianist Rich Harney and saxophonist/flutist Alex Coke have a long and prolific history together. They've joined forces over the years in stellar groups like Countenance and the Worthy Constituents, and locals can find them playing duets together virtually every week at the Elephant Room. Their most recent individual recordings have been markedly different, however, with Harney's in-the-pocket Triphonic piano trio in startling contrast to Coke's outside New Texas Swing explorations. Soul Prayers leans more heavily toward Harney's terra firma, with the pair laying claim to a set of traditional gospel tunes and inspirational originals. Spiritual music has long been a fertile source for jazz interpretation, and this quartet (plus one), a close approximation of the Worthy Constituents with Brad Evilsizer replacing the late and beloved drummer A.D. Mannion, digs in for some inspired soul searching of its own. Harney adheres to the earthy Horace Silver-inspired style upon which he's built his reputation. He's also outstanding in a supportive role behind his co-leader. Although more restrained than usual, Coke seems very much at home in this lyrical mode on both sax and flute. He's particularly impressive on ballads like his original "Psalm 23" and the "St. James Infirmary"-like "Mumblin' Word," where he recalls the cry of Coltrane's spiritual searches. From the set opening, Latin-inflected "Wade in the Water" to the pianist's concluding tune, "My Soul Awaits," which features the most adventurous playing here, Harney and Coke deliver a ruminative but uplifting jazz sermon.
Austin Chronicle
Rich Harney (piano); Alex Coke (woodwinds); Evan Arredondo (bass); Brad Evilsizer (drums); James Fenner (percussion)
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