Alex Coke's Iraqnophobia Reviewed
Commissioned by Tina Marsh for Austin's Creative Opportunity Orchestra, Alex Coke correlates the Texas prison setting of his previous "Wake Up Dead Man" suite with Iraqnophobia and the misfortune of innocent citizens caught in an endless war. With each movement inspired by the images of local photographer Alan Pogue, Coke personalizes hardened convicts and the Iraqi spirit by translating their characters through jazz. Taking cues from the hard bop of Sonny Rollins, the free jazz of Eric Dolphy, the soul jazz of Larry Young, and the jazz fusion of Michal Urbaniak, CO2 puts 25 years of experience as a functioning collective into the visual expressionism of their playing. Wielding a tenor saxophone to vault himself across the "Danger Line" of "Wake Up Dead Man," Coke releases pent-up emotion upon a world oblivious to the concept of forced prison labor as slavery updated. As Iraqnophobia shifts the sands of lost time to foreign lands, an exploratory communiqué between divergent cultures ripens with Marsh's vocal dervish on "Longnecks and the Shah." A healthy dose of empathetic projection and Middle Eastern modal landscapes lend Iraqnophobia its insider's view.