Black Box-Live at the King Center
T's nearly impossible to tell the story of The Cook Trio without telling the story of Django Reinhardt, born in Belgium in 1910 and raised in a gypsy camp outside of Paris. The first truely influential Jazz artist to originate from Europe and arguably the first to successfully highlight the acoustic guitar in what hitherto been a horn-driven, decidedly Black American genre, Reinhardt's unique guitar work remains beyond reproach and nearly impossible to copy. A fire cost him the use of two of his fingers on his left hand, forcing him to adapt his style to accommodate his handicap through an intricate fingering system, turning a limitation into an inimitable asset. The percussive strumming style of the 'Gypsy Jazz' he helped create with his popular Quintette du Hot Club De France during the '30s and '40s is the only form of Jazz whose origins are found outside America. When most people think of Jazz, they think of a nattily dressed Miles Davis brandishing his trumpet, or John Coltrane, nattily dressed, coaxing God from his alto sax. They rarely remember Django Reinhardt, the rough-and-tumble guitarist who, by ingeniously changing the movement forever, earned a place in the Jazz pantheon long before Miles or Trane learned to walk. They almost never remember that he dressed just as nattily. Enter the nattily dressed Cook brothers, natives of these parts, who, Frankenstein-like, raise Reinhardt back to life through their acoustic guitar trio. Formed in April 2005, The Cook Trio consists of Ian and Jason Cook and Kyle Jones, who were brought together by their common love of Reinhardt's passionate music and anarchic spirit. As they told me during a recent interview, the music speaks of Jazz's original eroticism and wartime Paris' unquenchable thirst for life. The audio clips of their independently released follow-up, villa saïd, should spell their sound out for you, but you're missing out if you don't catch them live. The jagged rhythms they turn out evoke not only the bowels of a smoky bistro, but the soul of a time when people tackled each moment with palpable urgency. Many other influences color their performances: with over 100 songs in their repertoire, a live performance is just as likely to yield tunes by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Miles, Trane, or Monk. Regardless, if it weren't for The Cook Trio gracing Central Florida's music scene, my life would be a lot dimmer. - T. Bennison.