Before his departure, Don Cherry was a kind of Johnny Appleseed for what would eventually be called the "New Thing" in jazz. He can be heard in the midst of the innovative work of Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler, Steve Lacy, Archie Shepp, and John Tchicai. Cherry's fertilizations changed the sound of creative music then and now. His explorations into (what we now call) world music opened doors for countless non- American musicians to participate in creative improvised music. These two recordings are evidence of that fact. Complete Communion includes the Argentine jazz tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri and Symphony For Improvisers adds German pianist and vibraphonist Karl Berger and the French bassist Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark.
The first of the two sessions, Complete Communion, finds Cherry and Barbieri together with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Ed Blackwell, who would perform on all three blue Note dates. Blackwell would return to perform in the late 70s to early 80s Ornette Coleman alumni band Old And New Dreams with Cherry, Charlie Haden, and Dewey Redman. The session, recorded on Christmas Eve is rumored to have been laid down in just one take. It has no breaks between the sections of the title track nor "Elephantasy," The origins of Cherry's compositional style begins with his time with Ornette, but there's more balance here. The shock of Ornette is resolved into a more flowing presentation. It is a gentler approach, even with the edge Barbieri lays down. Somehow, here (and with every future Cherry production) the music assuages any notions of unpleasantness.
If Complete Communion was a balm, Symphony For Improvisers is a bomb. Cherry retains his quartet from the first session, and adds a second bassist Jenny-Clark, a second saxophonist Pharoah Sanders (who doubles on piccolo) and pianist & vibraphonist Berger. The imagined congestion of two horns and two basses never actually happens. Each gives the other soloing space, Sanders opens with piccolo to Barberi's tenor. The title track is a twenty-minute heart-racing happening where the energy threatens but never overtakes the coherence of the music. There is something magical in both of these sessions. Cherry's presence here yields two cogent and comprehensible recordings.
Complete Communion; And Now; Golden Heart; Remembrance; Elephantasy: Elephantasy; Our Feelings; Bishmallah; Wind, Sand And Stars.
Symphony for Improvisers: Symphony for Improvisers; Nu Creative Love; What’s Not Serious; Infant Happiness; Manhattan Cry; Lunatic; Sparkle Plenty; Om Nu.
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