Release Date:
April 7, 2009

Reviewed by:
Anne Aufderheide

Joyce Cooling has been entertaining us for decades.  It’s her infectious rhythms, attractive melodies, and oh-so-cool grooves that keep us coming back album after album, year after year.  Now her 7th new CD, Global Cooling,  lives up to and exceeds what we’ve come to expect and, bonus, takes us for a very hip trip around the world and into her heart’s core, exploring the ideologies that make Cooling tick.  In my opinion, this is one of Joyce Cooling’s most creative, intriguing, and musically exotic albums ever. 

All songs are composed by Cooling and her songwriting partner, keyboardist and album’s producer, Jay Wagner. This magnificent, 11-track recording of new music is dynamic and vibrant, featuring Cooling’s delicately elegant finger picking style amidst very cool rhythms and captivating harmonies.  For this album, these gifted artists stepped up and honed their skills by playing new instruments, such as layered tablas, congas, bongos, sitar, berimbau and even accordion. There’s a very tight horn section on some tracks featuring the trumpet of Bill Ortiz.  Percussionist Celso Alberti and bassist Nelson Braxton add authenticity and texture to a few of the tracks. From her website, Cooling says, “Jay and I wanted to make music in the spirit of that interconnectedness that I like to call our global neighborhood.”

I get a kick out of Joyce Cooling’s album titles that incorporate her name: Playing It Cool, Keeping Cool, and now her 7th new CD, Global Cooling.  With her full band, Joyce Cooling previewed several songs from her new CD at the 19th Annual Berks Jazz Festival about one week before its official release.  When she announced the title, I chuckled with pleasure – fun, timely, socially conscious, with multiple meanings – once again incorporating her name in a clever play on words.

Given the focus of today’s politics, saving the planet from global warming is one of our grandest current missions. And the idea that Cooling’s new music could help to chill the planet, so to speak, is an ingenious thought.  The music of Global Cooling just that – an ingenious fusion of western and eastern music instruments and styles, in other words, Global Music Joyce Cooling Style.

Starting off the album is the instantly infectious “Grass Roots.”  Right off the bat, Cooling shows us she’s at the top of her game with such finesse and swing. Jay Wagner gives the first of many dynamic, standout performances on keys.  With a dash of Reggae, some bluesy guitar, and a tight horn section, this track became one of my favorites on the record. The title track, “Global Cooling,” is quite powerful with its intense, driving groove, sweet melody, and marvelous harmonies of guitar and drums and percussion of band mates, Billy Johnson and Roberto Quintana. This track is a Cooling & Wagner musical tribute to the green-globe effort, heating up the spotlight on planetary awareness while cooling down earthly temperatures.

In this slow burn, amidst its cool Latin groove, “Save This Dance For Me” highlights Cooling’s mature vocals as well as her signature guitar style.From Cooling’s website, these notes help us understand the track “Cobra.”  Cooling says, “I have some favorite Indian ragas, or scales, that I have always wanted to play. The scales didn’t fit over any of our previous songs, so we wrote ‘Cobra,’ using one of my favorite ragas as a springboard.”  With tablas, sitar, and a driving back beat, the distinctly exotic Middle Eastern style of “Cobra” provides a lush setting for Cooling’s urgent and mysterious guitar performance.  

“What Are We Waiting For?” features Cooling’s intimate, expressive vocal in this unpretentious song with its poignant yet down-to-earth lyrics and finger-popping groove.  Come to think of it, this is a question worth answering…what are we waiting for? This next track, “Dolores in Pink,” swings as it creates an upbeat atmosphere.  Its Brazilian groove is emphasized by Wagner’s delicate touch on keys, Cooling’s gorgeously melodic guitar, and rhythms by talented drummer Celso Alberti. This track just feels good!

In Cooling’s declaration of confidence in the human spirit, “We Can” is an unusual collage of influences from hip hop-like spoken word, to driving congas, bongos, timbales and berimbau, all  underscored by a rock drum beat.  You will definitely get your groove on!  Named after one of the band’s favorite restaurants in Detroit, the interplay in “Rhythm Kitchen” between Wagner’s funky keys, Tower of Power’s David Garibaldi smart drumming and serious low end of bass from Nelson Braxton (of the Braxton Brothers) guarantees a country & blues groove platform for Cooling to play her signature bluesy guitar. Tasty!

My very favorite track on the record, “The Red Rose” delivers an intoxicating tango, complete with fiery Spanish-style guitar, palmas-like percussion, and the hippest, coolest accordion performance that I’ve heard in a long, long time. There’s also a gorgeous piano solo.  Very nicely done, Mr. Wagner!  Horns overlay the witty lyrics of “Chit Chat” which pokes fun at our voyeuristic obsession with gossip and so-called celebrity.  From Cooling’s album notes, she says, “I was in a café and two people were having an intense conversation about another person.  I assumed it was about a family member or a close friend. The spirited banter turned out to be about some TV show and about people whom they’d never met or even seen.  It was time to write a song!”  Featuring percussionist Celso Alberti, “In The Streets” is a short yet tastily evocative rhythm and vocal track, like the Samba School bands in a Carnaval parade down the streets of Brazil’s famous cities.

Come on now, People! Join in this world-class, world-culture adventure.  You won’t regret it!

Continuing Cooling's support and commitment to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), Joyce will donate a portion of the proceeds from her CD sales to NAMI. For information on the National Alliance on Mental Illness, go to
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