Common Journey is a musical colaboration between Barry Cooper and Kris Johnson, two of the youngest members of the current Count Basie Orchestra. These exceptional young men are talented composers and arrangers that have formed a bond touring around the world.
As the title suggests, it covers a great field of musical territory.
On Shiny Stockings, homage is paid to Count Basie but is given a new treatment in a small group setting. Kris pays his respects to Harry “Sweets” Edison in his solo. The tune sounds surprisingly complete with the two horns as opposed to a big band rendition.
Up and Down, a Miki Hiyama composition shows a more “straight ahead” approach by the ensemble. On In a Sentimental Mood a nod is given to the Duke Ellington songbook, through multi-tracking sounds bigger than it is.
Kris’s Blues Collision is musical collage of Be-Bop tunes like Billie’s Bounce, Tenor Madness, and Now’s the Time. For extra spice, Ulysses Owens plays Au Privave in his drum solo.
27 Mac, a Barry Cooper composition provides an excellent showcase for the talented Miki Hiyama. John Lewis’s, Be-Bop classic Milestones is introduced with an eight bar piano solo, reminiscent of the composer. The conversation between the two horn players alludes to the fact these two have been in the “wood shed” together.
New treatment is given to Hammerstein and Kern’s All The Things You Are, with an exceptional Clifford Brown-like solo from Kris. The beautiful Coltrane composition Naima, sounds like a much larger ensemble due to multi-tracking. Barry provides a brilliant trombone solo as does Kris.
So I Can Live Again, a William Ware tune provides a bittersweet samba to the whole proceeding. Again Barry Cooper navigates through these difficult changes with aplomb.
Kris composition Monk Like, ends the journey.
It seems natural that these two young new veterans would join forces to create a record. The future looks bright for this band, and I'm sure this won't be the last collaboration heard from Barry Cooper and Kris Johnson.
Barry Cooper born in Jacksonville, FL received an early musical education in church. Realizing his love for jazz music, he decided to move to New York to study at the New School University under the direct tutelage of Benny Powell. He is currently a member of the Count Basie Orchestra which he joined in 2003. He also freelances with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, Charles Tolliver Orchestra, Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Orchestra, Lincoln Center Afro-Cuban Orchestra, and has been part of the Clark Terry Young Titans to name a few. Although this is his first project as a leader, he has appeared on numerous CDs and DVDs.
Kris, a Detroit native, studied at Michigan State University under Derrick Gardner, Rodney Whitaker, Wess Anderson and Wycliffe Gordon. A member of the Count Basie Orchestra since February of 2008, Johnson has written arrangements for the Count Basie Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Civic Jazz Orchestra, Yolanda Adams, and many other freelance projects. He also composed a jazz oratorio, "Jim Crow's Tears," a jazz quartet and string quartet suite, "Journey Through a Dream," and his song "My Apologies" was the winner of the 2007 Great American Song Contest.
Joining Cooper and Johnson is a powerhouse rhythm section, consisting of Miki Hiyama on piano, Matt Rybicki on bass, and Ulysses "Bim" Owens on the drums. Pianist Miki Hayama, originally from Kyoto, Japan, has worked with Kenny Garrett, Ralph Peterson, Sean Jones, Tia Fuller, Aretha Franklin, and is an in demand leader and sideman in New York City. Her sophomore album "Prelude to a Kiss" received a five-star rating in Swing Journal and aired on WBGO radio more than 60 times in 2008. Rybicki has performed with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Wycliffe Gordon, Nnenna Freelon, Renee Fleming, Terell Stafford, Winard Harper, Mark Whitfield, and Victor Goines. This Berklee (1995) and Julliard (2004) graduate is also an active educator and appears regularly in the New York area as a band leader and sideman. Ulysses Owens is another Julliard graduate (2006) who has
performed and/or toured with legendary artists Wynton Marsalis,
Vanessa Rubin, Audrey McDonald, Regina Carter, Benny Golson Eric Reed, Kurt Elling, Dr.Lonnie Smith, Russell Malone, and Mulgrew Miller among others.
- Benny Powell
1. Shiny Stockings (5:26)
- Frank Foster, arr. Barry Cooper
2. Up and Down (6:12)
- Miki Hiyama Art Union Corp.
3. In a Sentimental Mood (6:14)
- Duke Ellington, arr. Kris Johnson
4. Blues Collision (6:19)
- Kris Johnson ASCAP
5. 27 Mac (3:59)
- Barry Cooper ASCAP
6. Milestones (6:27)
- John Lewis, arr. Barry Cooper
7. All the Things You Are (5:10)
- Hammerstein & Kern, arr. Kris Johnson
8. Naima (6:51)
- John Coltrane, arr. Kris Johnson
9. So I Can Live Again (5:13)
- William Ware arr. Barry Cooper
- Kris Johnson ASCAP
Barry Cooper: Tenor and Bass Trombones
Kris Johnson: Trumpet and Flugelhorn
Miki Hayama: Piano and Fender Rhodes
Matt Rybicki: Acoustic Bass
Ulysses Owens: Drums
Dan Fleisher: Recording Engineer
Recorded at Kaleidoscope Studios in Union City, NJ on October 20 & 21, 2008.
Co-Producer Benny Powell
Co-Producer Shawn Edmonds