Don Cherry

Eternal Now

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Something of a sequel to Eternal Rhythm, his classic meeting of free jazz and world music from five years prior, Eternal Now found Don Cherry entering the studio for the tiny Sonet label, once again with members of the European avant-garde scene (this time from Sweden). This time around, though, the focus swings decidedly to the world-folk end of things: The only standard Western instrument is the piano, featured on only two of the five pieces (one of which is a non-traditional, African-styled repeated figure for two pianos and three players). The other instruments -- which include a great deal of percussion -- come from Africa, Tibet, China, India, Romania, and Indonesia. The session has a very loose, exploratory feel (four pieces are around eight minutes or more), which leaves lots of room for the musicians to play with the exotic textures of the instruments. The arrangements tend to be sparse, with plenty of open space that allows each instrument to be heard clearly, making for a sound that's similar to some of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's '60s work (on the same note, the percussion on "Tibet" also recalls the AEC's "little instruments" experiments). Cherry and the rest of his musicians hardly approach the project in a traditional manner (none of these intercontinental instrument combinations had probably been tried before); the whole point is to explore new musical possibilities and commonalities among cultures. While the results do meander occasionally, Eternal Now on the whole remains a fresh, unpredictable listen. (Eternal Now was reissued in full as part of the two-disc set The Sonet Recordings.)

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