"Guitar Player" magazine

"Promise Highway" review by J. Talylor

    CD Review
    Mark Cook
    The Promise Highway
    (Wendster Records - No catalogue #)
    by John Taylor
    Review date: October 2002
    "Keeping the Blues Alive Award"
    Achievement for Blues on the Internet
    Presented by The Blues Foundation
    music bar
    blues pictureMark Cook is one talented young man. On his last outing, "An Evening With The Blues," he handled just about every chore, from writing to multi-instrumental duties to production and engineering. A fine debut, that project was marred only by unconvincing vocals. Mark continues to wear many hats with "The Promise Highway"; not only did he write all the songs (with help on just one), he engineered, produced, mixed and arranged the project. Restricting himself to guitar, he's now working with a full band, and has solved his vocal dilemma quite nicely by recruiting two fine singers in the persons of Roman Broadus and DaRon Washington.

    Mark's blues lean to the rock side (lots of fiery fretwork in evidence), spiced with equal measures of funk, a bit of jazz, even some pop. Whereas such a blend can often result in a lack of focus, Mark holds everything together nicely, sequencing things intelligently to deliver a satisfyingly integrated package, the variety a plus rather than a distraction.

    The title track, a funky declaration of defiance, is fuelled by B3 and harmonica, Mr. Broadus' vocals just this side of overwrought; "Another Year Goes Passing By" (not, as one might suspect, an answer to Albert King's similarly-titled classic) is a bouncy shuffle. Mark shows his blues chops on "Down With The Blues," with Ms. Washington's soulful pleading deriving much of its passion from the church. Mark's work here shows both maturity and restraint. Again the B3, courtesy of Bobby Mobley, provides a solid and soulful cushion of support.

    "Mood Swing" is a jazzy little jump number; there's a delta groove to "You Can Take Away My Woman (But Don't Take Away My Wine)," and slippery funk on "This Is My Life." Elsewhere there are furious shuffles ("Bummin's My Profession" and "Don't You Ever Leave"), more funk (the aptly-titled "Funk The Blues"), breezy, jazz-inflected pop (think George Benson) on ""When The Blues Takes Hold Of Me," even a bit of swamp with "The Bitter Truth," a duet with Ms. Washington and Roman spurring each other on to frenzied heights - toss in a fine sax solo by Randy Hunter and this one may well be the disc's highlight. Mark wraps things up with a solo "Blues For A Rainy Day," a moody instrumental that effectively conjures up a dreamy, almost otherworldly atmosphere. Short and sweet, it's very pretty, very relaxing, yet Mark manages to make it swing just a bit. Very nice indeed.

    Still young by the standards of the blues game, Mark is enormously talented and shows great promise. He'd be well advised, however, to take some lessons on packaging; the cover shot is cheesy in the extreme. Given the quality of the contents, I sincerely hope it doesn't put potential buyers off. This one's definitely worth a listen.

    E-Mail: guitarmark@hotmail.com
    Web: www.markcookmusic.com

    In Association with Amazon.comSimply click on the CD cover at left to order this CD NOW! 

    This review is copyright © 2002 by John Taylor, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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"Blue Voodoo" CD review

Mark Cook CD Review

The Mark Cook Project 
"Blue VooDoo"

Wendster Records / Mec Jetlag

Just about a week ago, I did a review of a CD from a band called BLUE VOODOO, now here I am doing a review of a CD, by THE MARK COOK PROJECT, called "BLUE VOODOO". Is this a coincidence or should I be expecting to receive a doll called BLUE VOODOO soon? Hmmmm!

I must admit that when MARK COOK contacted me recently and asked if I'd give his latest release a listen, I was ECSTATIC! I immediately thought back to one of his prior releases that I had reviewed in 2003 and found myself hoping that this new disc would be as good as that one was. As a matter of fact, it was that earlier release - "AN EVENING WITH THE BLUES" - that won the very first BLEWZZY, the award we give annually to Blewzzman's favorite CD of all the CD's reviewed that year.

As Mark usually does, when he assembled this band, he chose from some of the finest musicians in his area, and he chose a lot of them. His ensembles are generally the size of a small audience. Hence the word "PROJECT". The members of this MARK COOK PROJECT, in alphabetical order, are: MIKE BARRY, trumpet; CHUCK BITHORN, percussion; ANDREW BLACK, vocals; MARK COOK, guitar, bass and keyboards; WENDY COOK, porch board; HEAVEN DAVIS, vocals; TOM GIBSON, trombone; LARRY GRIFFITH, vocals; LOLA GULLEY, vocals; JOEY HUFFMAN, B3 organ, STEVE MAYS, bass; BOB MOBLEY, B3 organ and piano; SEAN O'ROURKE, drums; STEVE RUSIN, harmonica; RIC SEYMOUR, vocals; SAM SKELTON, alto, tenor and baritone saxes; TIM YOUNG, bass.

"BLUE VOODOO" is a very tasteful and versatile mix of Funk, Soul, R&B, Roots Blues, Blues Rock, Big Band Blues and good old straight up, lowdown Chicago Blues. The disc contains 15 excellent tracks of which all lyrics and music were written, produced, recorded and mixed by MARK COOK. Amazing!

Although it will be difficult to not name them all, here are some of the tracks that particularly got my mojo working.

If you've got any speakers near a smoke alarm, be very careful as the opening track, "NO ONE LIKES A GOOD WOMAN (WHEN SHE'S DOWN)", comes on. This one's very hot and full of fiery funk. The rhythm section of SEAN, TOM and JOEY is rippin', the horns of SAM, MIKE and TOM are howlin', STEVE'S harmonica's hummin' and LOLA's vocals is the fuse that sets it all off.

There's no indication of anyone letting up, as the heat continues to spread into the next track, "GONNA FLY THE COOP". This one features ANDREW singing his heart out and mixing in lots scintillating scat. The horn section, once again - and as usual - are right there, and MARK and BOBBY are tearing up the guitar and keyboards. What a hell of a one-two punch for opening tracks.

"MOONLIGHT BLUES" brings things down a bit, but certainly not in quality - only in tempo. Once again, LOLA is featured on the vocals but this time she's belting out some good old down home blues, and damn can she belt it out. As you'd expect, there are lots of great blues guitar licks by MARK.

"BACK TO TENNEESSEE", is a very Sonny Terry & Brownee McGhee / Cephas & Wiggins sounding roots blues track which is all about STEVE on harmonica and LARRY on down home vocals.

"DON'T PULL ME DOWN" is another one of those tracks that everyone's tearing it up on, with RIC, one of a slew of excellent vocalists who have sung on this disc, leading the way. MARK, STEVE & JOEY are at their best on guitar, harp and organ.

"TOMORROW'S COME AND GONE", is a steamy and sultry vocal virtuoso performance by HEAVEN & LARRY. This wonderfully done 5 minute track added 75 minutes on this review because I literally listened to it 15 times over. It's songs like this that create a need for "Song of the Year Awards".

"BLUE VOODOO" is the musical comparison to the sky on a very clear and cloudless night....IT'S FULL OF STARS. Never have I listened to a CD and been this impressed with each and every performer. It breaks my heart to know that there are such talented people doing such talented things and the masses will never know about it. On the other hand, I'm thankful that I am one of the those that do. 

Purchase a copy of "Blue VooDoo" directly from us by clicking 

You can visit Mark Cook on the web at: www.markcookmusic.com/ 

"Promise Highway" CD review - (Bluesrockers)

Mark Cook: The Promise Highway
I rarely accept unsolicited review material. My reasoning for this is that I simply will not write about any recording that I do not think is worth your money to purchase and I also do not want an artist wasting his or her money by sending me a promo that I am never going to use. I am blessed to have some great eyes and ears all over the world who recommend recordings to me, and they are almost always right on the mark. Also, thank goodness for sound samples on the internet.

I do get fooled once in a while, and receive a truly outstanding unsolicited recording. Such is the case with "The Promise Highway", the latest recording from Atlanta, Georgia based blues/rock guitarist Mark Cook. Though one of my better
contacts (Thanks Steve!) recommended Mr. Cook to me, I had never heard a note of his work when his CD arrived at my home. I placed it in the CD player with the normal amount of doubt, but was quickly won over as a fan by what I heard on this recording. Cook, though apparently still a very young man, is a very polished, diverse and seasoned guitarist. He plays with both precision and emotion, and always seems to know just how much he can put into a song without overdoing it. He is also an excellent songwriter, with all 12 tracks being his original compositions. His band is one of the more talented I have heard in a good while, featuring a very impressive Andy Engle on bass, Chuck Hill on drums, Bobby Mobley on Hammond B-3, Randy Hunter on tenor sax, with the band's vocal duties divided between the raw and rugged Roman Broadus and the smooth and sultry DaRon Washington. This band has to be extremely good live, and I have put them on my ever growing list of those I hope to someday hear in person.

This CD is all good and includes one of my favorite instrumentals I have heard, "Mood Swing", the piercing Cook guitar and powerful DaRon Vocals of "This Is My Life" (which may be my favorite on the set), the title track, which sounds somewhat like "Street Corner Talking" era Savoy Brown, and the Chicago blues styled "Don't You Ever Leave", featuring great honky tonk piano, hot harmonica, and Cooks patented molten guitar work.

"The Promise Highway" is available from the band's official web site at www.markcookmusic.com and comes complete with the Bluesrockers seal of approval.

The Band:
Mark Cook-Guitar
Andy Engle: Bass
Chuck Hll: Drums
Bobby Mobley: Hammond B-3 organ/piano
Randy Hunter: Tenor Sax

1. The Promise Highway 2. Another Year Goes Passin' By 3. Down With The Blues 4. Mood Swing 5. You Can Take Away My Woman (Just Please Don't Take Away My Wine) 6. This Is My Life
7. Bummin's My Profession 8. Funk The Blues 9. Don't You Ever Leave 10. When The Blues Takes Hold Of Me 11. The Bitter Truth 12. Blues For A Rainy Day

2002 Mark Cook, BMI
Link: Mark Cook
© Bluesrockers 2002

"Vintage Guitar" magazine CD review

Mark Cook – An Evening With The Blues

An Evening With The Blues
An Evening With The Blues



It’s obvious this Terre Haute-based guitarist is a talented individual. He’s got the chops and did all the writing and arranging on this disc. Not only the instrumental portions, but the vocal melodies, as well. This M.C. employs the talents of a number of midwest-based vocalists to handle the up-front chores. And the vocal stylistic approach is locked in on the ’70s southern rock.

This is an enjoyable initial offering, but instead of employing B.B. King and, perhaps, Robben Ford, as a jumping off spot, Cook might consider taking the listener down a Delta road or two. It’s always good to revisit Hwy. 61 or 49. Or maybe Chi-Town, just for credibility’s sake.


This article originally appeared in VG‘s May ’01 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.