Jamie Breiwick ‘Awake / The Music of Don Cherry’ (Shifting Paradigm) 4/5

With the release of his latest project, trumpeter Jamie Breiwick pays homage to one of his heroes with his new album ‘Awake / The Music of Don Cherry’ released through Shifting Paradigm Records.

The multi-faceted nature of Breiwick’s artistry has always been explored through numerous avenues – from the variety of collaborations and ensembles he’s founded or performed with including the Lesser Lakes Trio, Choirfight, Clamnation, We Six to his role as an educator for high schools and universities in his home of Wisconsin or as a graphic design artist who has gone on to create stunning album presentations across a range of media through Breiwick’s own B Side Graphics business including albums from fellow Shifting Paradigm label mates like Andrea Scala’s ‘Coming Back, Leaving Again’ and Tony Barba’s ‘Blood Moon’.

Breiwick has always worn his influences on his sleeve and been more than happy to celebrate the musicians that have provided the biggest inspiration for his own music. Further to the ‘Awake’ album, Breiwick is also the band leader for Dreamland – a project that celebrates the indelible music of Thelonious Monk with the moniker ‘Dreamland’ in reference to an obscure Monk track.

It’s this unquenchable desire to continually try new things that Breiwick perhaps best identifies with when considering Don Cherry as a subject for such a touching tribute – that and of course the unquestionable quality of Cherry’s music. As a trumpeter, much is made about Cherry’s lengthy association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman as well as his pioneering steps in the 1970s within the realms of world fusion – before ‘world fusion’ was even a concept – and his subsequent incorporation of African and Middle Eastern styles within his compositions.

Joining Breiwick in his celebration of Cherry’s successes is Lesser Lakes Trio collaborator, drummer Devin Drobka, who also acts as the engineer for the album and can cite work with Kenji Herbert and Kyle Nasser, and rounding out the trio is stand-up bassist Tim Ipsen from the Tom Matta Big Band and Paul Dietrich Quintet.

Breiwick’s trio pay loving tribute to Cherry’s music within various stages of his expansive output: ‘Art Deco’ kicks the album off with its masterful reinterpretation of the 1989 title track ‘Awake Nu’ and ‘The Thing’ are also tackled beautifully from the 1969 album ‘Where is Brooklyn?’. In earlier reference to Cherry’s journey into the fusion-style territory, it’s particularly exciting to see Breiwick and company tackle the Coleman-composed ‘Race Face’ from the first of what would become three albums from Cherry’s Codona project in 1979. Codona paired Cherry with sitarist and tabla player Collin Walcott and Naná Vasconcelos on percussion, cuica and berimbau so to hear the inspired new take on that composition on ‘Awake’ is a real treat.

Don Cherry’s music has been left in the more than capable hands of Jamie Breiwick as he delivers a touching tribute to Cherry’s monumental achievements.

Imran Mirza