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Jazz - Released January 1, 1966 | Blue Note

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Blue Note Records

For his second album, Symphony for Improvisers, Don Cherry expanded his Complete Communion quartet -- tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, bassist Henry Grimes, and drummer Ed Blackwell -- to a septet, adding vibraphonist Karl Berger, bassist Jean François Jenny-Clark, and tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders (who frequently plays piccolo here). The lineup has a real international flavor, since Barbieri was from Argentina, Berger from Germany, and Jenny-Clark from France; Cherry had gigged regularly with all three during his 1964-1965 sojourn in Europe, and brought them to New York to record. With all the added firepower, it's remarkable that Symphony for Improvisers has the same sense of shared space and controlled intelligence as its predecessor, even when things are at their most heated. Once again, Cherry sets up the album as two continuous medleys that fuse four compositions apiece, which allows the group's improvisational energy and momentum to carry straight through the entire program. The "Symphony for Improvisers" suite is the most raucous part of Cherry's Blue Note repertoire, and the "Manhattan Cry" suite pulls off the widest mood shifts Cherry had yet attempted in that format. Even though the album is full of passionate fireworks, there's also a great deal of subtlety -- the flavors added to the ensemble by Berger's vibes and Sanders' piccolo, for example, or the way other instrumental voices often support and complement a solo statement. Feverish but well-channeled, this larger-group session is probably Cherry's most gratifying for Blue Note. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2005 | Blue Note Records

Where Is Brooklyn was Don Cherry's final album for Blue Note, and it returned to the quartet format of Complete Communion, this time featuring Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax along with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Ed Blackwell. Here, Cherry abandons his concept of recording all the album's compositions as side-long medleys; rather, each is treated separately, with spaces in between the tracks. There wasn't a need to integrate the compositions by periodically returning to their themes, so perhaps that's why Cherry doesn't really focus as much on bringing out his compositions this time around. Where Is Brooklyn is much more about energy and thoughtful group interaction than memorable themes, and so there's just a little something missing in comparison to Cherry's prior albums, even though they did also emphasize the qualities on display here. Nonetheless, it's still a fine record for what it does concentrate on; Sanders is in typically passionate form, and the rest of the ensemble members have already honed their interplay to a pretty sharp edge. It's worth hearing, even if it isn't as essential as Complete Communion or Symphony for Improvisers. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released January 13, 2021 | Gearbox Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1966 | Blue Note

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Free Jazz & Avant-Garde - Released May 22, 2009 | Heavenly Sweetness

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Blue Note Records

Not counting a couple of sessions he co-led with John Coltrane and Albert Ayler, Complete Communion was the first album Don Cherry recorded as a leader following his departure from the Ornette Coleman Quartet. It was also one of the earliest showcases for the Argentinian tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, who Cherry discovered during a stay in Rome. While the music on Complete Communion was still indebted to Coleman's concepts, Cherry injected enough of his own personality to begin differentiating himself as a leader. He arranged the original LP as two continuous side-long suites, each of which incorporated four different compositions and was recorded in a single take. In practice, this meant that several melodic themes popped up over the course of each side; all the musicians free-associated off of each theme, engaging in intense, abstract dialogues before moving on to the next. As the album's title suggests, every member of the group not only solos, but shares the total space selflessly. Bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Ed Blackwell both play extremely active roles, especially Grimes, who solos powerfully and sometimes carries the main riffs. Often the music sounds more like a conversation, as opposed to a solo with support, because the musicians make such intelligent use of space and dynamics, and wind up with a great deal of crackling, volatile interplay as a result. The leader remains recognizably himself, and his burnished tone is a nice contrast with Barbieri's fiery approach; for his part, Barbieri's playing has a lot of speechlike inflections, and he spends a lot of time in the upper register of his horn, which makes him sound quite similar to Ornette at times. As a whole, the project comes off remarkably well, establishing Cherry as an avant-garde force to be reckoned with in his own right. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2012 | ESP-Disk

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Jazz - Released February 24, 2009 | ESP Disk'

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Jazz - Released August 28, 2019 | Komos

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Jazz - Released August 7, 2007 | ESP Disk'

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Jazz - Released April 7, 2017 | Finders Keepers Records

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Jazz - Released June 1, 2012 | ESP-Disk

This third and final recording of the 1966 Don Cherry Quintet recorded at the Cafe Montmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark, is conclusive in many ways. On the two 20-plus-minute professed "suites" heard here, the bandmembers bring their collective sound together with every passing phrase. They seem to have a telepathy and single-minded sense of purpose that borders on alchemy. Historically, American-born Cherry is fronting an international group, perhaps the first of its kind, with German vibist Karl Berger, Italian drummer Aldo Romano, Danish bassist Bo Stief, and a young bold and fiery tenor saxophonist from Argentina, Gato Barbieri. Cherry has a bond with Barbieri that goes beyond symmetry or unity -- it's absolutely primal, unified and whole beyond imagination. The rhythm team, skilled and very familiar with how they play together, change themes and pacings at will -- an electrifying and dynamic duo. Berger's forceful, tuneful vibraphone playing has an orchestral quality, placed comfortably in the middle of this tornado of creative music, and knows just how to shade, accent, and push the harmonic content of this band ever onward. The best thing about these musicians is that they do not have to calculate, plot, or scheme to create this exciting music -- they just go! "Complete Communion" offers multiple themes, mostly in the hard bop realm, generally very fast but sometimes slowed in bluesy and soulful moods, in the main hypertensive, or at times even patient. Barbieri's tenor solos wail, or are corralled in singing unity with Cherry's approximate notation. During this piece, which was to become their magnum opus, they quote the melody from Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive." A completely free intro thematically fires up the jumping melody to "Remembrance," starting as a bluesy bop swinger buoyed by Berger's shimmering and quick chords as Barbieri and Cherry convene on several shout choruses drenched in harmony far beyond the pale. The band startlingly changes colors and pace at will, the drama factor is high, and a rock & roll insert a bit staggering. The band wittily reprises Ray Brown's "Two Bass Hit," and Romano's drum solo is as tasty as his ensemble work. Clearly one of the great -- if not the greatest -- early creative post-bop bands of all time, it's wonderful to have three full volumes of this combo at the peak of its powers, recorded and reproduced very well so the balance of all instruments is sharply defined. If you are a fan of any of the participants, these are must-have issues that will last a lifetime. © Michael G. Nastos /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 1, 2012 | ESP-Disk