New York Jazz Collective

I Don't Know This World Without Don Cherry

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A tribute to the late trumpeter and jazz icon Don Cherry, this is a more mainstream jazz effort than a progressive or avant one; it is neither overwhelming nor distinct, but it is, nonetheless, finely crafted music, composed in Cherry's spirit. It holds a jazz aesthetic with traces of world music inflections and charts far-reaching and intricate, yet accessible to all. Baikida Carroll takes on the daunting task of assimilating Cherry's personal sound, and he succeeds, especially when his horn is muted. Multi-woodwind master Marty Ehrlich is heartily heard, as is trombonist Frank Lacy, with Mike Nock on piano, Michael Formanek on bass, and Steve Johns or Pheeroan akLaff trading tracks on drums. Nock, the ostensible organizer of this session, also wrote half of the eight cuts. "New Morning of the Dream" sports an Afro-centric beat, with deep, resonant, soulful unison horn lines, and chanting during Nock's solo. "Indifference" has a slight introductory melody initiating Nock's cascading minimal piano and a beautiful horn fanfare leading to a 6/8 bridge; there's also a trombone solo from Lacy that has many bright moments. Nock likes measures of three and six, continuing the trend during "Legacy" and Formanek's similarly stanced "El Nino," with Lacy in flight and Ehrlich's taut alto, loaded with group counterpoint in the coda. Nock also penned "Crucible," which starts out somber, then leads into Native American piano and bass, a march feel, and a clarion horns announcing Ehrlich's dancing bass clarinet. Two pieces have Carroll featured prominently on his compositions. With a slight Brazilian rhythm, "Nock Down Under" launches his piquant trumpet, slightly overblown and Cherry-esque. He is more plaintive during "Don't Leave Me," a lustrous ballad with, again, Nock's waterfall of piano work. The title track is a well-wrought theme for Cherry written by Ehrlich in his and Ornette Coleman's harmolodic image. Quirky melody snippets cue drum breaks by akLaff and back and forth. A free pre-bridge leads to bass clarinet and bass struts and dancing piano from Nock, while Carroll and Lacy chat amongst themselves. The music world without Don Cherry is certainly a diminished planet, but it's good to know that there are those who recognize what he contributed. This should be the first of several tributes to his muse. Recommended.

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