Bassist Vattel Cherry’s double disc release of chamber, free-jazz begs for its listener’s patience from the outset. It delivers the goods, but not without a wait. Cherry is probably best known for his work with Charles Gayle, having recorded with the saxophonist on the Knitting Factory, FMP, and Silkheart labels. With his high-energy jazz credentials established, he opts for less grandiosity in these trio sessions.
This recording is split between two trios. The first finds Cherry with Jackie Blake and Ras Chris. The interaction between the three starts, stops, stutters and pauses as if all they want to play is a processional. The band deliberately avoids intensive energy music for the more random improvisations of chance and collective constructions. The first half of the disc feels as if the trio is listening too closely to each other, rather than attacking. They engage in the final two “Levels” more for the live audience, than on the musicians’ own initiative. Cherry has a commanding style with his finger action, leaving listeners wanting more pluck, less bow.
The second disc has the bassist’s sister Nicole Cherry and John Dierker aboard. Likewise, the second trio begins cautiously with each musician suggesting directions, rethinking their position and making new proposals. The exploration of alternate methods of playing via the pluck, knock, and rattle only adds to the tentativeness of the moment. Their deliberate effort to avoid rhythmic patterns and melody wears on your patience a bit. But otherwise there are moments of sober and beautiful reality here.
Would this disc have benefited from a bit of editing? Perhaps... its nearly two hours would have been a more engaging 74-minute single disc. As they say, with freedom comes responsibility.