Don Cherry

The Sonet Recordings - Eternal Now/Live Ankara

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This two-CD reissue collects two of Don Cherry's rarest albums, Eternal Now and Live Ankara, both of which were recorded for the extremely small Sonet label and strongly emphasize Cherry's interest in world music. 1973's Eternal Now was something of a sequel to his free jazz-meets-world music classic Eternal Rhythm from five years prior, once again featuring members of the European avant-garde scene. The only standard Western instrument featured is the piano; the other instruments come from Africa, Tibet, China, India, Romania, and Indonesia. The session has a very loose, exploratory feel, which leaves lots of room for the musicians to play with the exotic textures of the instruments, and sometimes resembles the Art Ensemble of Chicago. 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 between cultures. While the results do meander occasionally, Eternal Now on the whole remains a fresh, unpredictable listen. Live Ankara captures a 1969 concert at the American embassy in Turkey, where Cherry performs with an entirely Turkish rhythm section. The repertoire balances original Cherry themes (plus a few covers) with Turkish folk melodies arranged by Turkish jazz trumpeter Maffy Falay. Nothing is really explored for too long; the music is played as two continuous suites, and they usually shift to new material fairly quickly. The ensemble has a pretty sparse sound, with Cherry the sole lead voice for much of the concert. All of this serves to emphasize the melodicism of Cherry's playing here, and the Turkish material sits pretty comfortably alongside the jazz compositions. It's not quite essential, but it is very intriguing, and it's more than worth picking up both albums together in this form.

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