*When I sat down to listen to Hamid Cooper’s latest album The Spirit Filled Latin Jazz, I was completely blindsided by its melodic infusion of Africa, Cuba, traditional Jazz and how Cooper’s own Middle Eastern heritage adds a distinct flavor to the sound.
After my third listen it was off to Google to learn more about Mr. Cooper and his music, a sound so diverse and so tight, had to have a story that I needed to know to truly understand and enjoy the music. I read how he was influenced by his father’s Afro-Cuban record collection while growing up in Iran, studied health/fitness, arts and culture in Denmark, but never relinquished that love of music and ultimately followed that love into the United States in 1998.
The Spirit Filled Latin Jazz is the culmination of that love and desire to be a musician; the percussion Cooper plays on “Blue Bossa” hypnotizes you right until you realize that you’re now lost in the piano and horns and before you know it, the groove has taken you somewhere else, somewhere beautiful. By the time I reached “St. Thomas”, I imagined I was on a beach in St. Thomas; this is vacation music, an aural excursion above the concrete jungles that confine many of us.
I replayed “Footprint” half a dozen times, lost in the groove of the bass, woodwind and mesmerizing solo by Cooper on the congas. My wife is the Jazz aficionado in the house, so when I glanced over my shoulder to see her hips swaying to the rhythm, I knew I was on to something good. The reinterpretation of “Besame Mucho” updates a classic and makes it sexy, as is the case with “Desafinado” and “Girl from Ipanema.”
Cooper has definitely drawn from his influences and childhood favorites while constructing an album that’s based on beauty as much as it’s constructed around chords, measure, timbre, improvisation and all that Jazz. Memories of his dad’s record collection are evident as he incorporates thesounds of the past and creates a present sound that is as beautiful as a view
overlooking a Caribbean beach in the middle of July…makes me want to be there right now, think I need to listen to The Spirit Filled Latin Jazz and escape from Philadelphia.