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The Cookers' all-star jazz mix has staying power

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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David Weiss wasn't sure what kind of lifespan to expect for the Cookers when the all-star jazz group came together seven years ago.

Bands in jazz, he notes, tend to have a limited lifespan. "They get to a point where they have those tunes that define the group, and then it's like, 'Why do anything else?' " Weiss explains. But the Cookers -- which includes revered veterans such as tenor saxophonist Billy Harper, drummer Billy Hart, pianist George Cables, bassist Cecil McBee and trumpeter Eddie Henderson -- are defying those odds, with three albums out so far and a fourth slated to be recorded later this year.

"The industry seems to demand a different idea or a different concept each CD out. You've got to sell them in a different way or you've lost them-- and we ignore that stuff," says Weiss, 49. "we just keep on playing. We know we have a fan base, and those guys certainly have individual fan bases. so that allows us to keep going.

"We're quite busy, and I think we've built something here that has real staying power, so I'm glad we're able to keep everybody interested -- including ourselves."

Weiss, meanwhile, cooks outside of the Cookers. He's worked with artists such as Freddie Hubbard, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster and Jaki Byard and has released several albums of his own, with a new one just finished for release in the spring. And he's been mistaken for another David Weiss -- the Was (Not Was) co-founder who was jazz critic in Los Angeles and now works as a producer and journalist.

"I wrote three arrangements for (Hubbard's) 'Monk, Miles, Trane & Cannon,' " Weiss recalls. "It was my first job on a CD of that magnitude. I remember a guy at the record company sending me a review in Downbeat, and it talked about great arrangements by Bob Belden, Bob Mintzer -- and David Weiss of the pop group Was (Not Was)!

"Back then there was no Google or anything, so the reviewer only knew about that David Weiss in music and figured I was him. So he got credit for some Freddie Hubbard arrangements, at my expense."

The Cookers perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8, at the Paul Robeson Theater in the Northwest Activities Center, 18100 Meyers, Detroit. Tickets are $45. Call 313-578-7500 or visit www.nwac-detroit.org.

Web Site: www.nwac-detroit.org

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