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F. Vattel Cherry utters his sentiments while paying tribute to “pre-Revolutionary” America through the mouthpiece of his double-bass, small percussion instruments and spoken word on Is It Because I’m Black. Cherry displays formidable technique yet digs deep from within while performing on his rich, resonant double-bass as he stylishly renders deeply personalized if not passionate versions of public domain pieces, such as “Oh, Freedom”, “Go Down, Moses” and others. His composition titled, “1982”, features Cherry tapping out a engagingly melodic and bouncy theme while somehow utilizing bells and percussion in unison – I would suspect that Cherry may have these instruments dangling from a limb or perhaps his waist since this is a live recording. On his piece, “Lynchin’ In Central Park”, the bassist displays a silvery tone, yet his overall execution coupled with the deeply wooden sound of his acoustic bass takes on rustic or earthy characteristics. “Wade in the Water” is captivating as Cherry plucks the bass strings in synch with faint or subtle percussion instruments while his composition, “Four Haikus” features the spoken word recital of guest artist Laura Ludwig. On several pieces, Cherry recites lyric atop his bass lines and at times, takes on the persona of an American folk artist.
Is It Because I’m Black is an interesting statement from this New York-based bassist who performs from the heart while not simply content to dazzle with technique! It may not be for everyone, yet Cherry’s unique conceptual approach and resolve speaks loud and clear through the voicings of his mighty double bass. * * * ½