The fresh air of cool jazz guitar returns on NaradaJazz recording artist Joyce Cooling’s 6th offering, Revolving Door. It just knocks me out how polished she has always been--and she’s self-taught, all by ear. I have always held such artists who start that way in high regard. I guess that’s because I started that way and can truly appreciate the sacrifice and frustration that one pays as the price for such self-reliance, only to prevail as she has. I should have been so fortunate! An artist with eclectic tastes (she’s into everything), she often meshes those tastes in presenting her original style and techniques. Cooling proves time and again to be a dynamic force in smooth jazz.
Revolving Door starts off with her very distinctive and melodic fingering on "Mildred’s Attraction." On track 3 (the title cut), she lays down some serious blues, complete with runs as I like 'em! Track 4, "At the Modern," is a snazzy (that’s "snappy" and "jazzy" in my dictionary) piece that’s signature Joyce. Let’s get this straight, you don’t sit still with this smooth lady in your CD player--or on stage, for that matter (her live performance is fodder for yet another article!). Track 5, "I Will Always Love You (Ode to the Audience)," is a live acknowledgement and appreciation of those who appreciate her. A bluesy little number with just Joyce and her guitar.... doing what she does oh-so-well. You truly can’t help but appreciate her sentiment here!
Track 6, "Come and Get It," possesses some tastefully smooth, bluesy, yet funky jazz flavor with that contagious, trademark foot-tappin’ groove. Then, the funk comes pouring copiously out of her bottle on track 7, "Little Sister," my favorite. It’s intermixed with her cool touch and smooth vocals for yet another Joyce Cooling signature. You’ll find the same type of feel on track 9, "Jesse’s Bench."
I should note here that the concept of this album lies in the meaning of its title. The Revolving Door to which Cooling refers is the syndrome of mental illness. In fact, she is dedicating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this offering to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). A very noble effort. A very noble cause.
This stuff just comes easily to some folks. Joyce Cooling is definitely one of them. Add to that even more motivation from the cause she seeks to support, and you have an instant winner. Consistency, skill, class, emotion, and insight. Joyce Cooling in a word (or two). Mmm, mmm, good!