Lainie Cooke | Here's To Life

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Jazz: Jazz Vocals Jazz: Traditional Jazz Combo Moods: Solo Female Artist
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Here's To Life

by Lainie Cooke

Jazz singer in the classic mode -luscious, soulful, sophisticated optimism with great taste, intonation, and style.
Genre: Jazz: Jazz Vocals
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. I Just Found Out About Love
3:45 $0.99
2. Don't Quit Now
3:35 $0.99
3. It's Magic
3:16 $0.99
4. Here's to Life
3:06 $0.99
5. Close Your Eyes
3:45 $0.99
6. Bye Bye Blackbird
6:15 $0.99
7. The Nearness of You
2:54 $0.99
8. The Shining Sea
3:31 $0.99
9. As Long As I Live
2:19 $0.99
10. With a Song in My Heart
4:04 $0.99
11. Bourbon Rain
4:55 $0.99
12. Let's Do It
4:22 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
PROFILE: Lainie Cooke

Probably the only talented young person in history who left New York City and "went to L.A. to become a jazz singer," Lainie Cooke made her first and most lasting impression in the City of the Angels as far back as the '80s. But home was and is Manhattan, so she never gave up the ninth floor apartment, nor the dream to sing and sing and sing "bi-coastally and beyond."

The petite and powerful songbird has long been appreciated by fans in both showbiz towns. A group of regulars has turned out religiously for every live performance over the past 20-some years, and they have grown into more than fans. Those who aren't family have become friends.

Now, with the release of her first-ever recording, the heretofore exclusive and savvy membership of the "We've actually heard Lainie Cooke" Club is about to explode. And, in the liner notes of "Here's to Life" on Harlemwood Records, Lainie turns the tables on that loyal following of family and friends by dedicating the music to them. No trumped-up advance reviews. No rave testimonials. Just Lainie, speaking from the heart.

Singing from the heart is a given, as the exquisite presentation of 12 tasteful selections bears out, including: "Close Your Eyes," "The Nearness of You," "I Just Found Out About Love," "Bye, Bye Blackbird," "Here's to Life," and her nearly signature song by Jimmy Rowles, "Don't Quit Now." No one can imagine a Lainie Cooke appearance without the Rowles gem.

Here's to Life, is not a chance choice as the CD's title. It's a song for all times, and one she's been singing and living since the smallest (but not the youngest) of four sisters born in Minneapolis discovered her voice at a very young age, singing on the radio at age six and with a big band at 14.

When she moved to New York to take on the Broadway stage (like everyone else), her successes came instead from commercials as she became a popular voice-over artist. A theater arts major at the University of Minnesota, she had studied voice, piano, theory, etc., but it was her dramatic chops that rose to the surface before the musical chops could make their impact felt. And by the time the impulse to sing jazz, standards, cabaret and "just good songs" took over, Lainie was making a living in the Big Apple, speaking and singing off-camera, not on stage, for Jean Nate, Asti Spumante, Ford, McDonald's, and more.

Determined not to rest on her commercial laurels, "California, Here I Come" became her theme song, and a temporary, intensely concentrated move to L.A., where she duplicated her New York presence on the stages of clubs and cabarets, was the start of the double life of Lainie Cooke. The back and forth journeys sort of backfired. While maintaining the bread and butter voiceover work, recording as an artist was always just around the corner, if one could only stand still long enough to make it happen. So, it took a little longer, and now, it finally has.

In the words of jazz journalist Harvey Siders (but not on the liners, remember),

"Lainie can cook on the kind of quality standards she prefers-the Porter-Gershwin-Rodgers & Hart classics that challenge her dramatic bent for story-telling. She has an unerring ear for melodic invention, and an instinctive feel for time that allows her to take unusual rhythmic liberties. And her intonation is 'right on.'" (The Los Angeles Daily News, circa 1985.)

Mr. Siders, known in his own right for finding the humor in everything, also likes to tell a certain Lainie Cooke story. It goes like this:

"So what do you do just as you begin to make a name for yourself in New York? Right-you leave the country to run a poultry farm. As it happens, she married someone who convinced her that opportunity was knocking for them in Jamaica (not Long Island), in chickens. So from 1973 to '75, they worked days on the farm, and Lainie worked nights with a nine-piece jazz band in Montego Bay, turning her Caribbean caper into a woodshed in paradise. However, when Jamaican politics turned the tourist industry around and ended the 'fowl by day and howl by night' life for Lainie and spouse, they returned to the big city where she had, thankfully, kept her upper West End apartment and her commercial contacts. Post divorce and back in the saddle, the bi-coastal trip took shape."

And when this longtime journalist and likewise "fan" of Lainie Cooke's was contacted with the news that a CD was on its way to him-more than 20 years after he first heard and loved her singing-what do you think he said? "It's about time." Not typically clever. Not original. But true, so true.



to write a review

Jazz Improv Magazine - Bill Donaldson

Varied and Imagination! A sleeper that hopefully will lead to a second CD.
Lainie Cooke’s voice is all about projection. And control. And dynamics. And lyrical insight. And connecting
to her listeners. On Here’s to Life!, Cooke surrounds herself with top-shelf musicians from both coasts who, by the evidence of the music on the CD, had as much fun as she did during the recording process.
“I Just Found out about Love” kicks off the CD inauspiciously, making the listener wonder what’s to
come—a standard piano trio employed merely to back up a singer throughout all twelve tracks, or a lowering-of expectations that contrasts with the eventual conclusion of a song-length build-up. It doesn’t take long to find out that the second option is the one that Cooke chose. For after the first chorus, the song opens up into a solid swing leading into Joey Morant’s blatting and smearing trumpet solo that hints at more delights to come throughout the rest of the recording.
Some of those surprises arise throughout “Don’t Quit Now,” which is reminiscent of Sheila Jordan’s introduction
of her duo with Mark Murphy on “Round About.” And indeed, the lyrics of “Don’t Quit Now” are as narrative
and witty as a song that Jordan would have chosen: “Every kiss I take/Is a piece of cake/And to give me a sample/
Was your first mistake/’Cause I know when a little taste—want more/And now I want the whole darned bakery
store.” But beyond the choice of material, Cooke and Jordan share fearlessness in their singing, swelling notes to
make a point or turning in an instant from soft-sung introversion to bold entreaty. And to point out the similarities even further, “The Nearness of You” features Cooke singing accompanied only by bassist Cameron Brown, who
played on the excellent Sheila Jordan duo CD, Accustomed to the Bass, prodding and dodging and responding in a
sonic interaction.
Here’s to Life is more than a song on Cooke’s CD; it’s its theme. She has wrapped up all of her life’s lessons in her music and has chosen her repertoire accordingly. “With a Song in My Heart” emerges as a light-hearted samba, and even
so, Cooke engagingly finds occasion for increasing volume, excitement creeping into the buoyancy, as she sings “I
would see life through.”
The continuity of the recording arises from the charms of Cooke’s voice. The musicians fill in the roles of accompanists, tastefully emerging to contribute their own solos that advance the music,such as West Coast pianist Dick Shreve’s tasty development in the middle of his own composition, “Bourbon Rain.
”Here’s to Life is a sleeper CD from a singer whose interpretations of its songs, varied and imaginative, no
doubt will spark interest among its listeners and, with any luck at all, will lead to Lainie Cooke’s second CD.
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION—Reviewed in Jazz Improv® Magazine V4N4

Music-Tech.Net Indie Artist Showcase

Exceptional talent
Burning jazz sidemen like pianist Ted Firth and bassist Cameron Brown help make cabaret singer Lainie Cooke live up to her last name. Stylish delivery makes “Bye Bye Blackbird” and the title track of “Here’s To Life.”

A sheer delight! A treat for the ear .
The cd is a fantastic valentine! A love note to jazz lovers everywhere. It is a treat to hear such sentiment expressed with such sincerity.

The Jazz Connection - Phil McCarthy

Lainie Cooke is in command of music and lyrics




Being a bi-coastal artist for many years it is appropriate that Lainie Cooke’s first ever recording features players from New York and Los Angeles. Both sets of musicians support Lainie beautifully. Her interpretations of this tasty selection of tunes shows that not only is she concerned with lyrics but, more importantly, melodic and musical structure. From Cameron Brown’s bass support on “The Nearness of You” to the CD title song “Here’s to Life” it is evident that Lainie Cooke is in command of the lyrics and music. It is always a danger when doing familiar standards that what we hear are trite expressions. Not so here. Laine Cooke makes us hear these tunes newly. We also hear “Bourbon Rain”, an original by Dick Shreve rarely recorded before, delivered as comfortably as any other standard. Lainie’s magic is hearing new avenues of presentation and phrasing. It’s like having Thanksgiving dinner at a friends. The dishes are all familiar but the recipes are different. This big talent in a small package presents her voice powerfully and with confidence. Her choice of musicians on both coasts proves her commitment to Jazz.Very jazzy arrangements!!

It is surprising that this is Lainie’s first recorded material. You would think that in 20 years someone in one of the studios she worked for as a ‘voice’ over artist would have discovered her other vocal abilities. Our only hope is that we hear more from Lainie both on disc and in live performance which she has done both at “The Vic” in Santa Monica, CA and MOCA in the Big Apple. If you want to know what Jazz singing is all about catch Lainie Cooke whenever you can.

The Jazz Connection 0100

Alan Bargebuhr-Cadence Magazine

An exciting and beautifully executed debut CD,
Pianist, arranger, Dick Shreve leads a California trio (Maize, Kreibich) for five of Lainie Cooke's tracks. Her supple soprano shows surprising warmth and ample dynamic range as she correctly identifies Johnny Mercer's "Quit" lyric (Jimmy Rowles wrote the music) for the erotic tease it's meant to be. Her melodic variations on "Magic," make it a far more personal story than the familiar Doris Day version, as nice as Doris’’ version was ... and still is. The trio really cooks on a propulsive "Close," with some convincing scat by Lainie. Bob Maize's resounding bass is strong in support. She gives "In My Heart," a lavishly open, rhapsodic reading, with Peter Woodford's guitar added to the rhythm ensemble. Is that a bit of vocalese overdubbing at the very end? It's a welcome little touch. "Bourbon" is a Shreve original, a boilerplate saloon song with a better lyric than the title suggests. Lainie sells it, and I bought it……greedily. The East Coast trio, with Tedd Firth on piano, is just as solid as the West. Joey Morant adds some deliciously smeary trumpet to "Found Out" and "Blackbird," and Lainie lives her "Life," with Cameron Brown's powerful bass tones behind her, as well as Matt Wilson's subtle drum accents bristling athwart. Her joy is infectious and quite a contrast to Shirley Horn's dolefully halting take (3/93, p.86) on the same song. Lainie undresses "Nearness" melodically, with Cameron Brown her only accompanist and together they make it a dazzling pas de deux. Another duet follows as David Lahm takes over at the piano for his only appearance on the disc, acting as the singer's sole support for a gorgeous reading of "Sea." ...The Firth trio returns for a boppish "As Long," with Lainie indicating a certain regard for Anita O'Day's way of disregarding time lines. The grand finale is an all-stops-out version of Cole Porter's "Do It," on which Ms. C. does not shy away from the "Chanticleer" verse, and in so doing would seem to compliment her audience on their acquaintance with Chaucer. An exciting and beautifully executed debut CD, from a singer who's been on the scene for some twenty years without making a recording. Thankfully, she finally has, and it was well worth the wait.