YouTube Miner: Don Cherry
by Lars Gotrich
So I was telling the Boss Lady that sometimes, all I want to do is watch Don Cherry videos on YouTube. "Make it a post!" she exclaimed. Done and done.
It would have been nice to do a chronology of the avant-jazz-pocket-trumpeter-turned-world-fusion-pioneer's career via Youtube, but there are large gaps in what's available (notably, his time with Ornette Coleman). We jump from a 1963 date with Sonny Rollins to the late '70s pretty quickly, but what I did round up is Cherry at his best. Consider this a call out to tapers everywhere: we want more Don Cherry on YouTube. Make it happen, Internet.
To start off, here's a surprisingly funky version of Thelonious Monk's "52nd Street Theme" from the Sonny Rollins quartet featuring Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, taped in Roma, Italy, 1963. Dig the bass solo from Henry Grimes and a very young Billy Higgins.
Many more videos, after the jump.
Not entirely sure what this is or what is was for, but it's definitely Exhibit A for why Cherry was so cool. This is only a few years after his first world-fusion-free-jazz record, Eternal Rhythm, and he hangs here out in Tunisia for an exceptionally "free" jam session among locals.
This is the goldmine: Don Cherry (pocket trumpet), James Blood Ulmer (guitar), and Rashied Ali (drums/percussion). Did this trio ever record? Ulmer, especially, is in top form here and Don's cheeks balloon to the size of grapefruits. The video appears to be taken from a Swedish TV show, a country Cherry inhabited for a stitch. You can watch more of it here and here.
No date is given, but from Cherry's apparel, I'm guessing early '80s. Sun Ra isn't an easy dude to duet with, but Cherry could pick a melody out of anything.
From Italian TV in 1976, this one comes via Larry Dolman. Cherry channels the Italian spaghetti western soundtracks of Ennio Morricone with clanging percussion, an impassioned nylon-string guitar and his lone trumpet triumphantly sounding the melody.
Very funky opening credits to a 1976 movie called Nudi Verso La Follia. Is there any more tape of this performance out there?
Not a performance, but some enterprising YouTuber took Cherry's soundtrack contributions to the bizarro shamanistic-western Holy Mountain and laid it on top of various scenes from the film. Not necessarily NSFW, but co-workers may raise eyebrows.
While Cherry's most memorable world-fusion records happened in the late '60s/early '70s, his trio called Codona, with sitarist Collin Walcott and percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, was the ultimate realization of jazz-inspired improvisation and music from around the word -- specifically India, Brazil, Morocco and Scandinavia. This video is from 1984 (part two can be found here).
Cherry plays the pocket trumpet and the shruti box in a live performance/interview with
Ravi Shankar L. Shankar. I never knew these two crossed paths. It seems too perfect.
As much as I love Cherry, his Multikulti band has never clicked with me. This is when his world-fusion vision becomes a bit too polished for my tastes, but I quite like this performance of "Bamboo Night."
While down the rabbit hole that is YouTube, I discovered this live performance from a multicultural, Spain-based Cherry tribute ensemble called Total Vibration. It's a recent performance and I'm very peeved that they took the Cherry-inspired band name I've been holding onto for some time now. Sigh.
1:30 PM ET | 06- 2-2009 | permalink