For Don Cherry

Don Cherry would have been 80 today. I can’t let it pass without posting a little tribute. This film was recorded live at the Empire Theatre, Paris in 1979. Don plays doussn’gouni, pocket trumpet, piano, and he also sings. I’m not sure who the other musicians are but I recognise Trilok Gurtu on drums. It’s a wonderful performance. Don was always my favourite. Handmade and heartfelt music was his speciality. It seems now we need his healing spirit more than ever.

He never worried. About anything. Ever. It was amazing. If he saw someone else worrying, even a total stranger, he’d try to cheer them up. Tell them jokes. He was always raising people’s spirits, encouraging them. – Charlie Haden

Cherry Street / Terry Riley / Walk To The Mountain / Sounds And Silence

Frames of reference

Terry Riley

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During all the recent celebrations for Terry Riley’s 80th birthday I discovered many unfamiliar videos and recordings but none was more welcome than this with Don Cherry from 1975:

It’s from a bootleg recording of a concert in Cologne (available here) and although none of the pieces are credited I think this one is Descending Moonshine Dervishes. It begins with Terry Riley keyboard improvisations and Don Cherry accompanying on doussn’gouni, weaving intricate sound patterns, but when Don switches to pocket trumpet the music changes gear and he just simply lifts my heart. Continue reading “Terry Riley”

Frames of reference

Happy House

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Happy House: Don Cherry, Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell

When we drove to Italy last summer I thought our journey should have an Italian soundtrack, so I loaded the car with all the Italian music I could find. It was a mixed bag, some of it dubiously Italian. There was Louis Prima’s Just A Gigolo; a Christmas album of Vivaldi, Corelli and Scarlatti; Monteverdi’s Vespers with Jordi Savall; Stefano Scodanibbio’s Reinventions; the soundtrack album from La Grande Bellezza; Mike Westbrook’s Rossini; Spaccanapoli, Lost Souls; Ernst Reiseger + Tenore e Cuncordu de Orosei, Colla Voche; Orchestra Jazz Siciliana Plays The Music Of Carla Bley.

But unfortunately none of it was road trip music. Don Cherry Quartet Live In Nervi 1979 was the best. Not really Italian music but recorded there. This quartet were also known as Old And New Dreams. They’d all previously played alongside Ornette Coleman and together they reinterpreted his music. Happy House is one of their best and it kept us on the right track.

Frames of reference

For Charlie Haden

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I first knew Charlie Haden from his Liberation Music Orchestra in 1970. It still stands as my favourite album. I later discovered his work with Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Carla Bley, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny, Alice Coltrane, Bill Frisell, Geri Allen… He stood as a signpost to some of the best music of the past 50 years. His death last Friday from post-polio syndrome is a sad loss of a truly great artist. There’s a beautiful reminder of him here, but the best way to know Charlie is to listen to his music…

Charlie Haden: Song For Ché

Frames of reference

Sounds And Silence

This is a short trailer for the film Sounds And Silence from 2009. It is subtitled Travels With Manfred Eicher and it tells the story of his record label, Editions of Contemporary Music, following him over five years as he records musicians around the world. I discovered it thanks to Richard Williams via his very welcome new blog, The Blue Moment where he’s written about the exhibition ECM: A Cultural Archaeology, until recently at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. Continue reading “Sounds And Silence”

Frames of reference

Cherry Street

Not very long ago I visited a colleague at his studio. I’d been there before once or twice but this time I noticed a beautifully framed photograph high up on the wall opposite his work table. It was of Django Rheinhardt, watching over him like a guardian angel. It reminded me of a piece I’d read by Geoff Dyer about his musical hero, Don Cherry, and how he always liked to have a photograph of him above his desk. Don Cherry was a humble and sincere musical voice with a gregarious spirit, often finding the common thread linking music from different cultures, and I decided then he should be up there on my workshop wall too. His music has been with me since his days playing with Ornette Coleman and I followed all his explorations into what has since become known as World Music. He opened lots of doors and what he found there was always another aspect of himself.

Continue reading “Cherry Street”

Frames of reference