The Cookers, a septet of jazz veterans who joined forces just five years ago, is blanketed with greats like tenor sax player Billy Harper and drummer Billy Hart, who made their names playing bebop in the 1960s and ’70s. Named for Freddie Hubbard’s album, “The Night of the Cookers,” this band keeps the vibe of the past moving with the sound of tomorrow.
It seems for The Cookers, jazz knows no age. While the band is filled with venerable artists like trumpeter Eddie Henderson, age 72, and bassist Cecil McBee, 77, younger band mates David Weiss, age 48, and Craig Handy, 50, add to the flavor of the group, too. After all, Weiss has experience backing the band’s inspiration, the late trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. For their Philadelphia performance, they welcome their youngest voice yet, Philly’s own Orrin Evans, 36, on piano, best known for his work as leader of the Captain Black Big Band.
The Cookers’ regional debut this weekend will feature pieces from their three albums — “Warriors” (2010); “Cast the First Stone” (2010) and “Believe” (2012) — which summons up an aggressive mid-’60s spirit with a potent collection of post-bop originals marked by the killer instincts and fiery playing expected of the heavy hitting players of today.
"This CD is called ‘Warriors’ because this is how I look at these great men," writes trumpeter and band leader Weiss in the liner notes of their debut record. "They came up at a time when this music was at its most vital and exciting and was part of something epic and historic yet they are still going strong, playing with the same freedom, passion and intensity that is what encompasses this great music."
Their performance resonates with a kind of depth and beauty that speaks of the seasoned track record of its principals (combined, the group has over 250 years of experience in the jazz world and has been a part of over 1,000 recordings). "This is the sort of music that should reflect the times we live in today as we should be screaming from the rafters trying to fix all that is going wrong in the world today," continues Weiss in the notes to “Warriors.” "Perhaps playing music of great intensity and passion is a start at least and can shake some from their slumber."
Painted Bride Art Center, located 230 Vine Street, presents The Cookers in their Philadelphia debut on Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Bride Members, students, and seniors save 25 percent on tickets. For more information, call (215) 925-9914 or visit paintedbride.org.