Aside from Jay Wagner, who plays keyboards and produced the tracks, Playing It Cool features the ensemble work of some of the Bay Area's top musicians, including Ray Obiedo (who played additional keyboards and also co-produced), percussionist Peter Michael Escovedo (who also co-produced), drummer David Garibaldi, bassists Darryl Anders, David Belove and Jorge Pomar, and additional percussionists John Santos and Michael Spiro.
Playing It Cool opens with the happy go lucky, high spirits of "Imagine That" (featuring Cooling's lovely wordless vocals) before easing into a laid-back pop / soul vibe on the vocal piece "Savannah" and smoky, hypnotic Wes Montgomery flavors of the silky "After Hours". The next few tunes run the emotional gamut, from the wistful romance of "Another Time" to the festive funk jamming of "Almost Home" and "South Of Market". "On The Run" offers a seamless blend between Cooling's soaring voice and Wagner's jazzy electric piano chops, while Cooling shows a raw, grittier and bluesy side of her artistry on the rock-tinged "Sleight of Hand". Rounding out the set are the jazzy, lighthearted "Say You Will," the haunting ballad "How Was I To Know?" and the explosive, Brazilian-influenced throw down "Firefly," an adventure in percussion and soundscaping which stretches coolly to seven minutes plus.
Timeless songs, great guitar playing and a funky, positive attitude are just some of the attributes of Joyce Cooling's debut Playing It Cool, a stirring introduction to a major talent for whom conquering the smooth jazz world is only the beginning.