Don Cherry

Hear & Now

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Hear and Now's cover depicts a smiling Cherry posing like Buddha, and holding a trumpet with a bent mouthpiece -- an indication of some meditative sounds, but it's really a mishmash of styles with a leaning toward African rhythms. An underlying social message runs through the album of Cherry compositions (except one) produced by Narada Michael Walden. Cherry plays very little trumpet on "Universal Mother"; the African-based excursion is carried by Neil Jason's bass, Sammy Figueroa's congas, and Raphael Cruz's percussion work. He plays stretching, calling trumpet notes on "Karmapa Chenno"; African chants and verbiage flavor the tune, along with Stan Samole's sparkling lead guitar. The guitar-driven "California" is a groove; Cherry plays to a roadhouse beat, sounding like Miles Davis on a tune that's much too brief (less than three minutes). He dusts off his flute and gives a good account on "Buddha's Blues," on which he also plays trumpet; the beat is funky but jumpy and disjointed. "Eagle Eye" is a trio with Cherry (on flute), Figueroa (conga), and Cruz (percussion) -- tight, but again less than three minutes. An expansive "Surrender Rose" tries to be grandiose but never rises above mediocrity, despite wallpaper backing from Cheryl Alexander, Phoenix Volatis, and Patty Saafa. "Journey of Milarepa," "Shanti," and "The Ending Movement Liberation" are done as a suite, turning out to be a saving grace as the only mind-bender here. An average collection from Cherry, respectable and inoffensive.

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