The C.O.W.L. Sessions

Music By: Joe Clark

Distributed by: Sparks & Shadows

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                C.O.W.L. is a comic book series created by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel, with art by Rod Reis, distributed by Image Comics.  C.O.W.L., or The Chicago Organized Workers League, has always stood as a beacon of hope against organized crime and the brotherhood of Super-Villains.  But in 1962, facing a disillusioned public and surround by scandal and new threats, can the organization hope to survive? 

                The C.O.W.L. Sessions is an audio companion to the first five issues of this comic book series and has the distinction of being the first release produced by Sparks & Shadows in which the music was not composed by label founder Bear McCreary.  The music of The C.O.W.L Sessions was composed by Chicago native Joe Clark.  A trumpeter, composer and arranger, Joe Clark is also director of the Joe Clark Big Band.  To co-creator Kyle Higgins, Clark felt like a natural choice to create the music for this comic book.  As Higgins explains, "In many ways, The C.O.W.L. Sessions has been in the works for almost fifteen years, from the day Joe and I met in high school jazz band .  Of course, we had no idea our collaboration was going to take this form--his album inspired by my crime-noir-superhero-comic-- but considering we became friends over our mutual love of jazz, Chicago, film, and comics, I can't think of anything more fitting."

                Joe Clark's love of jazz and the style and era of the comic book made it perfect for the jazz genre.  Clark created a theme for each of the main characters.  According to Clark, "Each of the five leads of C.O.W.L.'s first story arc are represented musically: Grey Raven, Radia, and Blaze  have their own themes.  John Pierce's hunt for tragic truth can be heard in the song Investigations.  Arclight's more self-destructive tendencies are highlighted in Sparks, named after the nightclub he frequents. Of the remaining tracks, The Boss evokes the Chicago political machine, especially the late mayor Richard J. Daley. I also wanted to have one track that set the mood of C.O.W.L.'s Chicago, arguably a character in itself. We decided on a re-harmonization of the old jazz standard Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)'..."

                The jazz style and the tempo of the music give The C.O.W.L. Sessions album a detective noir sound.  You could almost hear that savvy, seen-it-all detective voiceover playing along with the music..."It was Chicago.  1962.  The League had thought they'd seen it all.  Fought it all.  And then SHE walked in."  Jazz fans will love the upbeat tempo and the energy of the music.  Fans of the comic book will find that the music perfectly represents their favorite characters.  The C.O.W.L. Sessions is definitely an album worth checking out.


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