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Jazz 13/09/2006

Joyce Cooling's 'Revolving Door' supports mental illness

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LOS ANGELES (By Rick Scott/ Great Scott Productions) - Narada Jazz/Blue Note Label Group released the seventh album from guitarist Joyce Cooling today. Vowing to make music that matters and connects emotionally, Revolving Door is her most personal collection to date. The album title is a reference to the issue of mental illness, which seemingly has no way out of the conundrum for those impacted by the disease. The issue hits Cooling particularly close to home because she grew up with a brother who suffers from schizophrenia, which had a major impact upon her family and continues to do so to this day. Committed to fostering understanding, creating awareness and lending assistance to those affected, a portion of the proceeds from record sales will be donated to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to help support people living with mental illness.

While the subject of the title track is serious, the album is not a depressing collection of songs about mental illness. It's an eclectic sampling of electric and acoustic jazz, R&B, blues and Latin rhythms. Exploring a vast array of moods, some of the tracks are hopeful and optimistic, some are bluesy cool, and others are pensive and heartfelt. Each song has a different feel. Cooling stretched her artistic muse on the album utilizing new percussion sounds and ten different guitars for the ten songs specifically to give each one a unique voice. The guitarist sings on several numbers in jazzy, sophisticated tones. The compositions were penned by Cooling along with longtime collaborator Jay Wagner, who produced the disc. What was also different for the duo was that Revolving Door is the first album on which they set out to let the stories they wanted to tell inspire the creation of the music instead of allowing the music to spawn the stories. The album's first single, 'Mildred's Attraction,' an energetic, funk-inspired track, is now being added to the playlists of smooth jazz radio stations.

'For almost my entire life, my family has been on the front line of the mental health crisis. Ever since my brother was diagnosed, his condition ' and its relentless, dominating presence ' has been the single most pressing element in my family's universe,' revealed Cooling. 'Most people seem to be embarrassed discussing or try to hide mental illness, but after much soul-searching, I decided to 'come out' about this reality to do what I can to bring attention and positive action to the issues of mental health. The 'revolving door' syndrome makes coping with mental disease a seemingly relentless process for both the afflicted and the family support group around them. The pros tell us that by fostering understanding and positive action, we can make a difference for those who suffer and for those around them who likewise struggle in the wake of the disease. That is why I have chosen to work directly with NAMI.'

Last June, Cooling and Wagner sponsored NAMI's benefit walk in San Francisco, the city the New Jersey native now calls home. The event raised over $250,000. NAMI will have a presence at Cooling's concert dates to distribute brochures and information about mental illness and the organization.

The early reaction to Revolving Door has been positive. All Music Guide wrote, ''Cooling finds a way to balance the darker edges with the joyful breeziness that has long endeared her to fans'These songs show tremendous artistic growth for both her and her longtime keyboardist partner Jay Wagner'' Jazz Review said, 'Her latest CD entitled Revolving Door follows the same path that she has been most noted for, which is a highly stylized soulful influx of melodies and rhythms' what is most apparent about Revolving Door is the overall expanse Joyce provides. There are a myriad of tracks featuring original upscale rhythms and highly efficient groove-oriented instrumental lyrics'They (Cooling & Wagner) bring a focus to a topic that commands attention and discussion. What is even more significant is the fact that Joyce has found a way to speak her mind musically and without words. This long-awaited release continues a process of illumination by placing Joyce Cooling in the limelight once again as one of smooth jazz's most significant guitarists.'

For nearly a decade, Cooling has consistently delivered No 1 hits and Top 10 singles to smooth jazz radio. The striking beauty was voted 'Best New Talent' in a Jazziz Reader's Poll, won the Gibson Guitars Award as 'Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year' and was nominated as 'Smooth Jazz Artist of the Year' by the Gavin Report.

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