Monday, November 18, 2013

Don Cherry, 1936-1995: Innovative Musician and Composer

(b. November 18, 1936--d. October 19, 1995)

Don Cherry Interviewed by Ben Sidran for NPR:


Don Cherry - "Symphony For Improvisers" (Part One):

"Symphony For Improvisers" (Part 2):

Recorded in 1966 for Blue Note label:

Don Cherry: cornet
Gato Barbieri: tenor saxophone
Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone, piccolo
Karl Berger: vibes, piano
Henry Grimes: bass
Jean-François Jenny-Clark: bass
Ed Blackwell: drums

Don Cherry - "Complete Communion" (Part One)

Recorded in 1966 on Blue Note label

Don Cherry--trumpet, cornet, composer
Gato Barbieri--Tenor saxophone
Henry Grimes--Bass
Eddie Blackwell--Drums

"Complete Communion" Part 2:



Don Cherry - trumpet, piano, electric piano, vocals
Frank Lowe - saxophone (tracks 1, 2 and 4)
Ricky Cherry - piano, electric piano (tracks 1, 2 and 4)
Charlie Haden - bass (tracks 1, 3 and 4)
Billy Higgins - drums
Verna Gillis - vocals (track 1)
Bunchie Fox - bongos (track 1)
Hakim Jamil - bass (track 2)
Moki - tambura (track 3)
Brown Rice (album)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Studio album by Don Cherry
Released 1975, Italy
Recorded 1975
Genre Jazz
Length 39:17
Label EMI
Producer Corrado Bacchelli

Don Cherry chronology

Eternal Now
(1973) Brown Rice
(1975) Hear & Now
(1976)  Brown Rice, reissued as Don Cherry, is a studio album recorded in 1975 by trumpeter Don Cherry.


1 Overview
2 Reception
3 Track listing
4 Personnel
5 Release history
6 References
7 External links


The album presents a fusion of jazz with rock, R&B, African, Indian, and Arabic music.[1][2] Charlie Haden plays wah-wah bass on the title track, while Frank Lowe's tenor evokes a blues influence.[1][2] "Malkauns" includes tambura accompaniment.[2]

The tracks "Brown Rice," "Malkauns" and "Degi-Degi" were recorded by engineer Kurt Munkacsi at Basement Recording Studios in New York City.[3][4] "Chenrezig" was recorded by Michael Mantler at Grog Kill, Woodstock, New York.[3][4] Corrado Baccheli produced the sessions with his associate Beppe Muccioli.[3]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [1]
Penguin Guide to Jazz [5]

The Allmusic review by Steve Huey awarded the album 4½ stars stating "Brown Rice is the most accessible entry point into Cherry's borderless ideal, jelling into a personal, unique, and seamless vision that's at once primitive and futuristic in the best possible senses of both words. While Cherry would record a great deal of fine work in the years to come, he would never quite reach this level of wild invention again".[1]

Brian Morton and Richard Cook, writing for The Penguin Guide to Jazz, called Brown Rice "a lost classic of the era and probably the best place to sample the trumpeter as both soloist – he blows some stunningly beautiful solos here – and as the shamanic creator of a unique, unearthly sound that makes dull nonsense of most 'fusion' work of the period.… Exceptional and recommended."[6] Previous editions of The Penguin Guide to Jazz gave the album a four-star rating, of a possible four.[5]

Carl Braurer, writing for Cadence, suggested that the title track and "Degi-Degi" were the least successful tracks on the album, and would have benefited from shorter running times.[2] However, Braurer felt that overall, "this [album] is Cherry at his finest."[2] The All Music Guide to Jazz, which reprinted Braurer's review, marked the album as a landmark recording.[2]

Track listing

All compositions by Don Cherry except as indicated

"Brown Rice" - 5:15
"Malkauns" (Bengt Berger, Don Cherry) - 14:02
"Chenrezig" - 12:51
"Degi-Degi" - 7:06
Recorded at The Basement Recording Studios in New York (tracks 1, 2 & 4) and at Grog Kill in Woodstock (track 3)

The album was first titled Brown Rice.[1][2][6] EMI Records originally released the album in Italy under this title.[2] Horizon Records reissued the album in 1977, titled Don Cherry.[2][7] John Snyder and Rudy Van Gelder prepared a digital master at Van Gelder Studio in 1988, and in 1989 A&M Records released Brown Rice on Compact Disc.[3]

^ a b c d e Huey, Steve. Brown Rice (album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Braurer, Carl (1994), Ron Wynn, ed., All Music Guide to Jazz, M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, pp. 147–148, ISBN 0-87930-308-5
^ a b c d Brown Rice (Media notes). Don Cherry. Los Angeles: A&M. 1976. 397 001-2.
^ a b Don Cherry at Discogs
^ a b Cook, Richard; Brian Morton (2008) [1992]. The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (9th ed.). New York: Penguin. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-14-103401-0.
^ a b Morton, Brian; Richard Cook (2010) [1992]. The Penguin Jazz Guide: The History of the Music in the 1001 Best Albums. The Penguin Guide to Jazz (10th ed.). New York: Penguin. pp. 424–425. ISBN 978-0-14-104831-4.
^ Brown Rice (album) at AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-10-01.
External links[edit]

Brown Rice at Discogs (list of releases)

Don Cherry (trumpeter)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Background information
Birth name
Donald Eugene Cherry
November 18, 1936
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
October 19, 1995 (aged 58)
Málaga, Spain
Jazz, free jazz, world fusion music
Cornet, pocket trumpet, piano
Associated acts
Codona, Ornette Coleman, Paul Bley, Sonny Rollins, New York Contemporary Five, Naná Vasconcelos, Old And New Dreams

Donald Eugene Cherry (November 18, 1936 – October 19, 1995) was an American jazz trumpeter. He is well known for his long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman, which began in the late 1950s. In the 1960s he became a pioneer of world fusion music, incorporating various ethnic styles into his playing. In the 1970s he relocated to Sweden. He continued to tour and play festivals throughout the world and work with a wide variety of musicians.


1 Biography
2 Instruments
3 Technique and style
4 Discography
4.1 As leader
4.2 As sideman
5 References
6 External links

Cherry was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where his father (who also played trumpet)[1] owned the Cherry Blossom Club, which hosted performances by Charlie Christian and Fletcher Henderson.[2] In 1940, Cherry moved with his family to Los Angeles, California.[2] He lived in the Watts neighborhood, and his father tended bar at the Plantation Club on Central Avenue, which at the time was the center of a vibrant jazz scene.[3][4] Cherry recalled skipping school at Fremont High School in order to play with the swing band at Jefferson High School.[3] This resulted in his transfer to Jacob Riis High School, a reform school,[3] where he first met drummer Billy Higgins.[5][6]

By the early 1950s Cherry was playing with jazz musicians in Los Angeles, sometimes acting as pianist in Art Farmer's group.[7]:134 While trumpeter Clifford Brown was in Los Angeles with Max Roach, Cherry attended a jam session with Brown and Larance Marable at Eric Dolphy's house, and Brown informally mentored Cherry.[3] He also toured with saxophonist James Clay.[8]:45

Cherry became well known in 1958 when he performed and recorded with Ornette Coleman, first in a quintet with pianist Paul Bley and later in what became the predominantly piano-less quartet which recorded for Atlantic Records. During this period, "his lines ... gathered much of their freedom of motion from the free harmonic structures."[8]:289 Cherry co-led The Avant-Garde session which saw John Coltrane replacing Coleman in the Quartet, recorded and toured with Sonny Rollins, was a member of the New York Contemporary Five with Archie Shepp and John Tchicai, and recorded and toured with both Albert Ayler and George Russell. His first recording as a leader was Complete Communion for Blue Note Records in 1965. The band included Coleman's drummer Ed Blackwell as well as saxophonist Gato Barbieri, whom he had met while touring Europe with Ayler.

After leaving Coleman, Cherry often played in small groups and duets (many with ex-Coleman drummer Ed Blackwell) during a long sojourn in Scandinavia and other locations.

He later appeared on Coleman's 1971 LP Science Fiction, and from 1976 to 1987 reunited with Coleman alumni Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, and Blackwell in the band Old And New Dreams,[9] recording four albums with them, two for ECM and two for Black Saint, where his "subtlety of rhythmic expansion and contraction" was noted.[8]:290

In the 1970s he ventured into the developing genre of world fusion music. Cherry incorporated influences of Middle Eastern, traditional African, and Indian music into his playing. He studied Indian music with Vasant Rai in the early seventies. From 1978 to 1982, he recorded three albums for ECM with "world jazz" group Codona, consisting of Cherry, percussionist Nana Vasconcelos and sitar and tabla player Collin Walcott.[5]

Cherry also collaborated with classical composer Krzysztof Penderecki on the 1971 album Actions. In 1973, he co-composed the score for Alejandro Jodorowsky's film The Holy Mountain together with Ronald Frangipane and Jodorowsky.

During the 1980s, he recorded again with the original Ornette Coleman Quartet on In All Languages, as well as recording El Corazon, a duet album with Ed Blackwell.

Other playing opportunities in his career came with Carla Bley's Escalator Over The Hill project, and recordings with Lou Reed, Ian Dury, Rip Rig + Panic and Sun Ra.

In 1994, Cherry appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, on a track titled "Apprehension" alongside The Watts Prophets.[10] The album, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in African-American society was named "Album of the Year" by Time Magazine.

Cherry died on October 19, 1995, at the age of 58 from liver cancer in Málaga, Spain.[1]

His stepdaughters Neneh Cherry and Titiyo and his sons David Cherry, Christian Cherry and Eagle-Eye Cherry are also musicians.

Cherry was inducted into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in 2011.


Don Cherry learned to play various brass instruments in high school.[7]:134 Throughout his career, Cherry played pocket cornet (though Cherry identified this as a pocket trumpet), trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, and bugle.[11][12]

Cherry began his career as a pianist, and would continue playing piano and organ.[11]

After returning from a musical and cultural journey through Africa, Cherry often played the doussn'gouni, a stringed instrument with a gourd body (see ngoni). During his international journeys, he also collected a variety of non-Western instruments, which he mastered and often played in performances and on recordings. Among these instruments were berimbau, bamboo flutes and assorted percussion instruments.[11]

Technique and style

Cherry's trumpet influences included Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, and Harry Edison.[11] Journalist Howard Mandel suggests Henry "Red" Allen as a precedent (given Allen's "blustery rather than Armstrong-brazen brass sound, jauntily unpredictable melodic streams, squeezed-off and/or half-valve effects and repertoire including novelty vocals")[13] while Ekkehard Jost cites Wild Bill Davison.[7]:138

Some critics have noted shortcomings in Cherry's technique.[5][7]:137[11] Ron Wynn writes that "[Cherry's] technique isn't always the most efficient; frequently, his rapid-fired solos contain numerous missed or muffed notes. But he's a master at exploring the trumpet and cornet's expressive, voice-like properties; he bends notes and adds slurs and smears, and his twisting solos are tightly constructed and executed regardless of their flaws."[11] Jost notes the tendency for writers to focus on Cherry's "technical insecurity," but asserts that "the problem lies elsewhere. Perfect technical control in extremely fast tempos was more or less risk-free as long as the improviser had to deal with standard changes that were familiar to him from years of working with them.… In the music of the Ornette Coleman Quartet – a 'new-found-land' where the laws and habits of functional harmony do not apply – there is no use for patterns that had been worked out on that basis."[7]:137

Miles Davis was initially dismissive of Cherry's playing, claiming that "anyone can tell that guy's not a trumpet player – it's just notes that come out, and every note he plays he looks serious about, and people will go for that, especially white people."[13] According to Cherry, however, when Davis attended an Ornette Coleman performance at The Five Spot, he was impressed with Cherry's playing and sat in with the group using Cherry's pocket trumpet.[13] Later, in a 1964 Down Beat blindfold test, Davis indicated that he admired Cherry's playing.[14]


As leader:

1961: The Avant-Garde (Atlantic) with John Coltrane
1965: Togetherness (Durium)
1965: Complete Communion (Blue Note)
1966: Symphony for Improvisers (Blue Note)
1966: Where Is Brooklyn? (Blue Note)
1966: Live at Cafe Montmartre 1966 (ESP-disk)
1968: Eternal Rhythm (MPS)
1969: Mu (BYG) with Ed Blackwell
1969: Live in Ankara (Sonet)
1970: Human Music (Flying Dutchman) with Jon Appleton
1971: Orient (BYG)
1971: Blue Lake (BYG)
1972: Organic Music Society (Caprice)
1973: Relativity Suite with the Jazz Composer's Orchestra (JCOA)
1973: Eternal Now (Sonet)
1975: Brown Rice (Horizon)
1976: Hear & Now (Atlantic)
1982: El Corazón (ECM) with Ed Blackwell
1985: Home Boy (Barclay)
1988: Art Deco (A&M)
1991: Multikulti (A&M)
1993: Dona Nostra (ECM)
With Old and New Dreams

Old and New Dreams (Black Saint, 1976)
Old and New Dreams (ECM, 1979)
Playing (ECM, 1980)
A Tribute to Blackwell (Black Saint, 1987)
With Codona

Codona (ECM, 1979)
Codona 2 (ECM, 1981)
Codona 3 (ECM, 1983)
As sideman[edit]

With Ornette Coleman

Something Else!!!! (Contemporary, 1958)
Tomorrow Is the Question! (Contemporary, 1959)
The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic, 1959)
Change of the Century (Atlantic, 1960)
Twins (Atlantic, 1959-60 [1971])
The Art of the Improvisers (Atlantic, 1959-61 [1970])
To Whom Who Keeps a Record (Atlantic, 1959-60 [1975])
This is our Music (Atlantic, 1960)
Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (Atlantic, 1960)
Ornette! (Atlantic, 1961)
Ornette on Tenor (Atlantic, 1961)
Crisis (Impulse!, 1969)
Science Fiction (Columbia, 1971)
Broken Shadows (Columbia, 1971 [1982])
In All Languages (Caravan of Dreams, 1987)
With the New York Contemporary Five

Consequences (Fontana, 1963)
New York Contemporary Five Vol. 1 (Sonet, 1963)
New York Contemporary Five Vol. 2 (Sonet, 1963)
Bill Dixon 7-tette/Archie Shepp and the New York Contemporary Five (Savoy, 1964)
With Albert Ayler

The Hilversum Session (1964)
Vibrations (1964) Freedom Records
New York Eye and Ear Control (1965)
With Charlie Haden

Liberation Music Orchestra (1969)
The Golden Number (1976) (one track)
The Ballad of the Fallen (1986)
The Montreal Tapes: with Don Cherry and Ed Blackwell (Verve, 1989 [1994])
With Sun Ra

Hiroshima (1983)
Stars That Shine Darkly (1983)
Purple Night (1990)
Somewhere Else (1993)
With others

Steve Lacy - Evidence (1962)
Sonny Rollins - Our Man in Jazz (1962)
George Russell - George Russell Sextet at Beethoven Hall (1965)
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra (1968)
Carla Bley - Escalator over the Hill (JCOA, 1971)
Clifford Jordan - In the World (Strata-East, 1972)
Alejandro Jodorowsky and Ronald Frangipane - "The Holy Mountain Original Soundtrack" (1973)
Steve Hillage - "L" (1976)
Collin Walcott - Grazing Dreams (ECM, 1977)
Latif Khan - Music/Sangam (1978)
Johnny Dyani - Song For Biko (1978)
Lou Reed - The Bells (1979)
Bengt Berger - Bitter Funeral Beer (ECM, 1981)
Rip Rig + Panic - I am Cold (1982)
Bengt Berger Bitter Funeral Beer Band - Live In Frankfurt (1982)
Dag Vag - Almanacka (1983)
Frank Lowe - Decision in Paradise (Soul Note, 1984)
Jai Uttal - Footprints (1990)
Ed Blackwell Project - Vol. 2: "What It Be Like?" (1992) (one track)

^ a b Olsher, Dean (1995-10-20). "The Jazz World Remembers Trumpeter Don Cherry". All Things Considered. NPR. Retrieved 2012-09-28. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
^ a b Feather, Leonard; Gitler, Ira (1999). The Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz. Oxford: Oxford UP. p. 124. Retrieved 2012-09-28. – via Questia (subscription required)
^ a b c d Silsbee, Kirk (April 2003). "Don Cherry interview (April 25, 1984)". Cadence Magazine (Redwood, NY: Cadnor Ltd.) 29 (4): 5–11. ISSN 0162-6973.
^ Carr, Roy (2006) [1997], "The Cool on the Coast", A Century of Jazz: A Hundred Years of the Greatest Music Ever Made, London: Hamlyn, pp. 92–105, ISBN 0-681-03179-4
^ a b c Voce, Steve (1995-10-21). "Obituary: Don Cherry". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-09-28. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
^ Crouch, Stanley (1976). "Biography". Brown Rice (Media notes). Don Cherry. Los Angeles: A&M. 397 001-2.
^ a b c d e Jost, Ekkehard (1994) [1974]. Studies in Jazz Research 4: Free Jazz. Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-80556-1.
^ a b c Litweiler, John (1984). The Freedom Principle: Jazz After 1958. Da Capo. ISBN 0-306-80377-1.
^ Old and New Dreams at AllMusic
^ "Stolen Moments: Red Hot & Cool: Various Artists: Music". Retrieved 2012-03-28.
^ a b c d e f Wynn, Ron (1994), Ron Wynn, ed., All Music Guide to Jazz, M. Erlewine, V. Bogdanov, San Francisco: Miller Freeman, p. 147, ISBN 0-87930-308-5
^ "Pocket Players". Retrieved 2008-05-21.
^ a b c Mandel, Howard (December 1995). "Don Cherry". The Wire (142): 26–29. ISSN 0952-0686.
^ Feather, Leonard (1964-06-18). "Blindfold test: Miles Davis". Down Beat. Reprinted in Frank Alkyer, ed. (2007). The Miles Davis Reader: Interviews and Features from DownBeat Magazine. Hal Leonard. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-4234-3076-6. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Don Cherry (jazz).
The Slits' memoirs of Don Cherry
Discography at
Don Cherry biography (in German and English) and bibliography (in English)