Don Cherry’s Works Profiled

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

Cherry came up in the jazz world playing trumpet in Ornette Coleman’s world-changing quartet, with bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Edward Blackwell. That period, spanning out a series of albums that include Something Else!!!, The Shape of Jazz to Come, Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation, and Science Fiction (with later, coda-like appearances), was sufficient to make Cherry a major figure in jazz history. His solo career began with the continued free jazz explorations of The Avant-Garde on Atlantic Records with John Coltrane, a series of albums on Blue Note, and the wonderful Mu duet records with Blackwell. Eventually, Cherry would move out of free jazz—and past the boundaries of jazz altogether—into a social “world” music rooted in ancient folk traditions from around the globe, which would become his unique, and arguably most important, legacy. It certainly is the one that made him indelible.

This period, from his 1968 Eternal Rhythm album roughly through his late ‘80s/early ‘90s albums on A&M, is both well and poorly documented. There are a lot of records, but the bulk of them have gone in and out of print, slipping onto and off of the slates of different archival labels, which has made two decades of his music tantalizingly hard to hear.