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It’s really a shame that so few jazz followers are aware of the talents of guitarist Ed Cherry. He’s been on the scene for quite some tine now, playing gigs with such name artists as Sam Rivers, Paquito D’Rivera, and Tim Hardin, not to mention the fourteen years he spent as a sideman with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie. The Spirits Speak is only the third set as a leader to be cut by the 47-year-old guitarist since Gillespie’s death in 1993. Unique too in the fact that it marks the first time that Cherry is leading an organ combo for his own purposes, let us not forget that he excels in this format as evidenced by two current Big John Patton discs featuring the guitarist (namely Minor Swing and This One’s for Ja, both for DIW/Disc Union).
You won’t get an argument from anyone when it comes to the company that Cherry keeps. Organist Lonnie Smith and drummer Nasheet Waits hold down the fort, with saxophonist Joe Ford fronting things as a lead voice. There’s really little need for going into detail about individual tracks. With a large number of Cherry’s originals making up the program, the moods are varied and inspired. Inclined to make some sort of recommendation, a clear highlight has to be the electric twang of “Woo!/Sharrock,” where Cherry plays homage to the late Sonny Sharrock. Normally a mellower player with a single note style that recalls the approach of Grant Green, Cherry turns up the distortion on this one and rocks out.
Vocalist Laird Jackson appears on a version of Horace Silver’s “Peace” and her own “Share a Life.” While she doesn’t embarrass herself, she also doesn’t necessarily present anything of any great significance to the proceedings. That reservation aside, Cherry adds yet another solid effort to his meager discography and makes another bid for wider recognition.
Track Listing: Little Girl-Big Girl, The Spirits Speak, Top Hat, Woo!/Sharrock, Peace, Joe's Thing, Lennox Avenue-1 AM, Share a Life
Personnel: Ed Cherry (guitar), Joe Ford (saxophones), Lonnie Smith (organ), Nasheet Waits (drums), Laird Jackson (vocals on 4 & 8 only)