Don Cherry ‘Organic music society’ (Caprice, Sweden) 4/5

Trumpeter Don Cherry’s contribution to the evolution of jazz history while part of the Ornette Coleman band is legendary and his mid-late 1960s sides for Blue Note are equally well feted. However, by the 1970s jazz was no longer flavour of the month and musicians were beginning to explore new world roots influenced sounds and did so on tiny independent labels. This is why the re-issue of ‘Organic music society’, which dates from 1973, is such an important one. It documents a period in Cherry’s career that few save a tiny minority were in the know about at the time and the music sheds vital light on the subsequent world-oriented recordings that the trumpeter would record as part of Codona for ECM. Brazilian percussive sounds predominate on the opener ‘North Brazilian ceremonial hymn’ which, at twelve and a half minutes, is a mighty homage to that country’s tradition and Nana Vasconceles is on hand to provide authentic accompaniment. Of equal interest is the re-working of Pharoah Sanders/Leon Thomas’ classic ‘The creator has a master plan’. African roots and Indian classical music were clearly on Cherry’s mind and turntable at the time and this is reflected in the inclusion of ‘Relativity suite parts 1 and 2’ for the former, and especially on ‘Mamisha raga kamboji’ for the latter. Minimalist influences meanwhile are present on the Terry Riley composition ‘Terry’s tune’ while a famous Dollar Brand tune, ‘Bra Joe from Kilimanjaro’, receives a faithful rendition. An array of Scandinavian musicians plus Turkish drummer Okay Tomiz imbue this album with a truly cosmopolitan feel and the recordings themselves range between various studio and even a school performance. This is arguably Don Cherry’s finest moment from the 1970s and an important precursor to the ECM recordings of the 1980s. The gloriously resplendent cover (check the Soul Jazz book on ‘Spiritual Jazz’ for the full size design) has been lovingly reproduced on a deluxe gatefold sleeve with extensive inner sleeve notes. This must surely be one of the contenders for re-issue of the year from the small enterprising Swedish label Caprice and one hopes they may just be able to unearth another golden nugget from the vastly underrated archives of jazz recorded in Sweden. Tim Stenhouse

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