|Soft Wave Jessie Allen Cooper and Rick Krizman|
After cultivating this imaginative intermingling of natural and studio sounds for more than 10 years, Cooper offers it to the mass audience for the first time on his Sona Gaia debut album, SOFT WAVE -- six heart-touching compositions capable of making significant waves in the domains of contemporary jazz and instrumental/ New Age music.
Against the soothing backdrop of the Pacific Ocean's surf (recorded north of Malibu), Cooper coaxes a variety of tranquil, refreshing colors from his soprano saxophone, restoring a glow of warmth and intimacy to the instrument that other performers may be overlooking.
"Many saxophonists play a lot more notes than I do," says Cooper, a Washington native now living in Southern California. "They wind up sounding busier, more aggressive. I play fewer notes, but I feel fewer notes can say more because each one is so important to the composition, to the mood. Not as many musicians are as familiar as I am with the soprano sax. I also play tenor and alto, but to me the soprano is more of a spiritual instrument. It is the instrument that best expresses my personality."
Cooper wrote or co-wrote
five of the six songs on SOFT WAVE. Co-producer/engineer
Rick Krizman, plus synthesists Mark Cohen and Rusty Hamilton,
all of whom perform on the album, also contributed to the songwriting
effort. Key tracks include the inviting title song and
"Talk to Me", which Cooper dedicates to bottle-nosed
dolphins, which are heard frolicking among the melodic lines
"The natural sounds are mood-setters rather than the meat of the song," Cooper says. "I respect the things people such as Paul Winter have done, but this is new and different. We handled the sounds with a great deal of care to make sure they merged beautifully with the compositions.
"I love creating highly visual music. I remember feeling a little short-changed when I watched some early New Age videos. I would see a stream and hear a guitar, but I couldn't hear the stream. When I saw videos that involved flying, I wished I could hear the wind. To my ears, that was disappointing. I want my listeners to enjoy a very complete and tasteful picture when they hear my music."
Cooper's visual approach to music is explained by his passion for art. The walls of his home are filled with a widely eclectic collection of art, indicative of Cooper's diverse tastes. Presently his collection reflects the art community's progressive trend toward Southwestern art. In the past, Cooper has served as a framer for museums, and for many renowned artists, in addition to having created personal works that he describes as "spontaneous abstract expressionism".
"I was studying art before I studied music," he says. "during the recording of SOFT WAVE, I would bring art into the studio - lithographs, surrealist landscapes, reverse Byzantine glassworks, you name it. Rick and I began calling the music 'the movie', and whenever we got stuck, we would go over and look at the art."
Cooper acquired an interest
in music due to his brother's fascination with drums. In
his early teens, Jessie attended a John Mayall concert
where he was overpowered by John's performance on the harmonica.
Cooper then taught himself how to play the diatonic harmonica
and became a popular performer with several regional rock and
blues bands, yet its chromatic limitations compelled him to investigate
and ultimately embrace the saxophone at age 19. The fruits
of his love affair with the sax