Lainie Cooke
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Lainie Cooke

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE | AFTRA

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE | AFTRA
Band Jazz Cabaret


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"Jazz Connection"

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...This big talent in a small package presents her voice powerfully and with confidence. If you want to know what Jazz singing is all about catch Lainie Cooke whenever you can.

- Phil McCarthy

"L.A.. Jazz Scene"

The power in her voice gives Lainie Cooke an advantage over the competiton. She swings a program of familiar songs but what makes her performance stand out is that these interpretations are all her own. Everything in her vocal style turns out fresh new and exciting. Cooke has talent.

- Jim Santella

"O's Place Jazz Newsletter"

Lainie breathes lots of life through these dozen classic jazz ballads. Along with the title track, there's "Close Your Eyes", an upbeat arrangement of "Let's Do It' and "Bye Bye BlackBird". The surrounding trio (quartet on track 10) is solid as a rock allowing Cooke to fully express her celebration.

- Oscar Groomes


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." This would seem to suggest another New York recording date entirely, but with only one track to show for it? One wonders what that was all about. 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. One note-which may clear up some confusion about the tune, "Don't Quit Now." It's usually listed as "Baby, Don't You Quit Now," as on Carol Sloane's and Ella Fitzgerald’s recordings of same. But, just to add to the confusion, according to Vol. 19, pg. R685 of the Lord Discography, when Rowles himself recorded the tune, it came up titled simply, "Baby Don't Quit Now." All titles, however, lead to the same tune. The lyrics themselves would seem to validate the Sloane and Fitzgerald versions of said title.

- Alan Bargebuhr

"Review in"

Better late than ever, is a phrase everyone is familiar with but takes on a special meaning for vocalist Lainie Cooke, a remarkable singer who has waited more than most for the opportunity to engage her first love of song. With “It's Always You,” her sophomore recording, Cooke presents a mellow twelve-track set of wonderful standards bathed in new light and well accompanied by a finesse cast of players. No longer a youngster, this mature seasoned veteran of the arts, possesses powerful vocals allowing her to travel effortlessly from fiery passages to soothing cool terrain in graceful style.

She actually began singing very early in life, from age six to fronting a big big band at the tender age of fourteen, this Minneapolis-born songbird had much promise when life managed to get in the way. After an education and working as an actress and voice over artist for 30 years, Cooke clawed her way back from obscurity singing in night clubs and in cabarets from New York to LA culminatin g with her 2002 debut “Here's To Life” at the age of sixty. Now, just a tad older but finer, Cooke provides a superb performance interpreting old standards like Ray Noble's “The Very Thought of You,” Michel Legrand's “I Will Wait For You,” and Cole Porter's classic “After You” with tenderness.

Of course there are other songs that deserve meaningful attention beginning with the opener “It's Always You,” and continue with the oft recorded “Too Close For Comfort,” and lesser known scores like “Tuesdays In Chinatown,” and “Answer Me” just to name a few. Not to be overlooked here is the personnel that provide the backup instrumentals which include none other than the great Joel Frahm on the reeds, Ted Firth on piano, Roland Barber on trombone and rounding out the rhythm section are guitarist Marvin Horne, bassist Cameron Brown and drummer Matt Wilson—all providing superb musical support.

No question about this one folks, Lainie Cooke has a winner on her hands with “It's Always You,”ably demonstrating that sometimes the wait is well worth it—considering the quality of the music and her unique vocal delivery—it certainly was.

Year: 2009
Label: Harlemwood Records
Artist Web:

"Lainie Cooke JazzTimes Review"

Lainie Cooke
It’s Always You (Harlemwood Records)
Among jazz singers, there’s never been any shortage of late-to-the –game practitioners, but Lainie Cooke numbers among the few who can claim to have started early--very early--yet waited more than half a lifetime to make their recording debut.

The Minneapolis-born Cooke has been singing since age 3 and was fronting a big band at 14. Throughout the 1980s, she proved a consistent favorite on the L.A. club circuit. She then planned to take New York by storm but instead ended up paying the bills by lending her sand-dusted soprano to jingles for the likes of Ford and McDonald’s, augmenting her commercial work with regular concert dates. Finally, in 2002, the wider world got the chance to discover, with the release of Here’s to Life, what a select few bi-coastal club-goers had known for decades: that Cooke is a first-rate interpreter of jazz standards both sassy and sweet.

Now with more than another half-decade having passed, Cooke has delivered a follow-up disc, demonstrating that her unique brand of steel-lined warm-an enticing style that suggests the musical astuteness of Sheila Jordan blended with the salty panache of Anita O’Day-has in no way diminished. Trolling the fogged passages of “Tuesdays in Chinatown,” gently peeling back the tender folds of “The Very Thought of You”, softly plumbing the elegant regret of Cole Porter’s “After You,” or suggesting a female Sinatra as she meanders through O’Day’s cheeky barroom anthem, “Waiter Make Mine Blues,” Cooke consistently proves the long wait has been more than worthwhile.

Christopher Loudon
JazzTimes, March, 2009
- JazzTimes

"Jazz Improv Magazine"

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 hosen: “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. Although the liner notes give merely a glimpse of the experiences that formed her (including a black-and-white photo of Cooke singing during a talent contest at the age of twelve), like many other singers, she has wrapped up all of her life’s lessons in her music. And Cooke 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 liner notes don’t explain how or why Cooke chose to record in both Los Angeles and New York studios, where she worked with top-shelf musicians like Paul Kreibich, David Lahm or Matt Wilson. Still, the results are similar,
even as they are different. The continuity of the recording arises from the charms of Cooke’s voice. Accordingly, 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
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 - Bill Donaldson

"Music Tech Net"

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.”


With the cool of her native Minnesota and the grown-up sass of her present New York, Lainie Cooke swings.
- Bob Edwards


My new CD "It's Always You" released April 2008. "Here's to Life", (Harlemwood, 2002), is still being played nationwide and streamed on internet radio. Both are available at, CD Baby, and And check out my FB page and my music page there too -!/pages/Lainie-Cooke/27473142081.



Lainie met her first microphone when she was three years old. It was love at first sight. She did her first radio show at six, television show at eleven, and became a band singer at the age of 14. She sang in her hometown of Minneapolis in large and small venues til she left college to come to New York City. She was able to merge two careers becoming a successful voiceover actor doing commercials for such varied products as Jean Nate, Asti Spumante, Ford, McDonald's, The Daily News, Gillette, Ideal Toys, etc. as well as Infommercials, Industrials, TV promos etc, etc. etc.
Probably the only talented young person in history to leave New York City and go to L.A. to work the jazz clubs there, Lainie Cooke made her first and most lasting impression in the City of the Angels in the '80s making many fans and friends performing in the top jazz clubs of the Southland.
But New York is home and always will be. The petite and powerful songbird has long been appreciated by fans in both showbiz towns. In the words of jazz journalist Harvey Siders, "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.'" (Los Angeles Daily News, circa 1985.)
Ms. Cooke also serves on the National and Local Board of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and is one of the best voiceover coaches in the country.