Released by Naxos Jazz in 1997, “I Don’t Know This World Without Don Cherry” is a noteworthy homage to the late Trumpeter/Composer. Cherry’s lasting influence in modern jazz needs no elaboration here; however, The New York Jazz Collective delve into the creative spirit of Cherry’s vast musical legacy.
Multi-reedman Marty Ehrlich composed the title track and here the band along with Ehrlich’s lead clarinet work, perform an inspired rendering of what could have been a track from Cherry’s association with “Old and New Dreams” or Ornette Coleman. Drummer Pheeroan ak Laff may have had the late drummer and longtime Cherry associate, Ed Blackwell in mind. Here, ak Laff fills in the gaps with melodic tom rolls, crafty snare and cymbal work yet basically keeps the meter in tow as the horn section invokes Ornette Coleman-ish harmolodic developments. Cherry along with Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman and Ed Blackwell applied many of Coleman’s concepts under the auspices of Old and New Dreams which was a great 1970’s unit. Old and New Dreams took Coleman’s approach to different realms often incorporating cross-cultural rhythmic structures and diverse modal developments or as we say today, “World Music”. On pianist and producer Mike Nock’s “Nock Down Under” it’s trumpeter Baikida Ca! rroll who takes the spotlight utilizing his large, gorgeous tone and fluid phrasing complimented by a rhythm section that turns on the cruise control. The venerable Frank Lacy serves up a meaty and engagingly melodic trombone solo on this piece as we move into Mike Nock’s soft and delicate ballad “Don’t Leave Me” which features the sensuous and sublime flute work of Marty Ehrlich. Mike Nock’s “Legacy” could be a sentimental reference to Cherry’s musical legacy. Here, Marty Ehrlich’s pensive and warm alto sax tells a passionate story as Mike Nock’s stunning piano interlude is stated with lush, melodic chord progressions and glistening right hand leads. Baikida Carroll brings the brass section back in as this piece flaunts horn arrangements that flow with the underlying melody line. On Mike Nock’s “Crucible”, Ehrlich skillfully utilizes his bass clarinet over a straight four backbeat as drummer Steve Johns does a commendable job of intensifying the tempo while the brass sec! tion proclaims choruses that are crisp and harmonious.
These compositions provide insight from the musician’s personal perspectives and perhaps convey the inspirational or motivational forces of Cherry’s influence in contrast to performing a cd comprised of Don Cherry originals. The New York Jazz Collective is on target. No frills or hidden agendas here. Just finely crafted material that is eloquently performed while visions of Don Cherry nodding his head in approval come to mind. Recommended.
Marty Ehrlich; Clarinet, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Alto Sax: Baikida Carroll; Trumpet, Flugelhorn: Frank Lacy; Trombone: Michael Formanek; Bass: Pheeroan ak Laff; Drums: Steve Johns; Drums