DallaIn 2004 I discovered Steve Dooks through his album Two Days on the Floor. Three years later he offers his listeners something entirely different with Cocktails, Heartaches and Cigars. I know it sounds more like the title of a blues album; however, this is jazz with a little bit of the blues around the outer fringes and stuck in between ("It's Called The Blues"). Jazz and blues - blues and jazz; whatever way you want to look at it they are kissin' cousins, and Dooks goes down that path more than once.
I found a lot of lighthearted humor on this recording, and Dooks has a way of making you comfortable and right at home with his easy living room style approach. His last album had the same warmth, and because it was a successful formula it looks as though he decided to stay with it. He is the winner for making that decision.
I found great levity and irony in "My Attorney Bernie." The words, although filled with cynicism and a very funny jab at lawyers, will have you finding a common ground with the singer. The progression of the tracks is a typical love affair from the hearts-on-fire start to the bitter end when it all falls apart, then you have the blues in some bar; sipping on cocktails and looking for your next hostage to start the process all over again. The story is very familiar and one that everyone loves hearing repeatedly. Dooks makes it all a fun ride with his demeanor and instrumentation, which seem to fall right in line with his lyrical processions.
Dooks looks like he is playing the part on the cover of the CD; the lonely cowboy drowning his sorrows at the bar, with one exception - this cowpoke plays jazz 'n blues not country music. He plays piano quite well and the rest of the band seems to have no problem following his lead to fill in their parts respectively.
I did not get into this album straight away like on the previous release, but found after a few listens that the intention here was to explore jazz and several of the subgenres while leaving behind the complexities and seriousness that jazz can entail. The end product is good music and it makes light of the pain we all go through at one time or another in our lives. Thanks again Steve for helping us to listen with both ears and to hear the message in between the notes. The ability to laugh in the face of tragedy is a gift and if you absorb it through a musical journey it makes it all just a little easier.