I dare you to listen to this record and not smile at least once. This
record is light, enjoyable and full of Don Cherry. Just like Cherry at his
best, it is fun, doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is wonderfully
This record showcases Cherry at a point of change. He’s transitioning from
the US to Europe—from the free jazz element to something approximating
free, improvised world music. Spiritual jazz as some people have called it.
His cornet playing is spot on, but so are his other more eccentric musical
instrument choices. (Though I’m always cautious of the gong, its use in 'Infant Happiness', followed by a killer coronet performance is spot on).
This record is a veritable time capsule. It’s Paris in 1967 and Cherry and
his trio are performing on French radio. A young Karl Berger, who would
later become well known for his role in starting the Creative Music Studio,
is playing vibes, marimba among other percussion instruments. Drums are
performed by Jacques Thollet, known more for his work with the Palm record
label, based in France, founded by Jef Gilson and active in the 1970’s.
They are all at the peak of their game, laying the groundwork for the
spiritual, otherworldly jazz that is to come a few years later. The pieces
sometimes have an unfinished feeling, probably because it is a radio
recording, but also because this is just the start of the inventive music
to come in the years to follow.
The record is classic Don Cherry—fast, eclectic, with hardly any moment of
rest. This performance’s music is bright, vibrant and full of fast paced
texture. Though at times the coronet provides moments of solemnity, it’s
invariably followed by a joyful explosion of colorful sound. And if there’s
anything to criticize about the music, it’s that. The record could have had
a few more moments of silence, quiet in amidst the frantic rhythms. But
perhaps that betrays the music’s origins as a radio broadcast; it might
have been easier for audiences via radio to have listened to a fast-paced
piece, instead of a more contemplative textural drone, as some of Cherry’s
later music is. And, the performance is a laboratory of sorts—the musicians
are trying to get out everything they can.
Though I normally only listen to music at home, this time I happened to
start listening to this record while wandering around the city, taking the
train and walking around. Without even noticing, I had a kind of bounce, a
skip in my step. It was the perfect music for a bright and sunny day, full
of potential. It’s enjoyable and approachable and doesn't take itself too
seriously. A wonderfully Cherry album.
Don Cherry: Cornet, piano, bamboo flute, gong
Karl berger: Vibes, marimba, paiano, cleste, percussion
Jacques Thollet: drums, bell, timbales