Take Five: An Unearthed Gem from Don Cherry, and an Anthem by Charles Lloyd & the Marvels
Along with new music by Natural Information Society, Cowboys & Frenchmen, and Michael Dease.
Don Cherry, “You Took Advantage of Me”
For admirers of trumpeter Don Cherry, 1965 is a year synonymous with some landmark recordings: it saw the release of New York Eye and Ear Control, which he’d made with a collective spearheaded by Albert Ayler, and the recording of Complete Communion, his own debut for Blue Note, featuring peers like Gato Barbieri.
Cherry Jam, due out this Friday on Gearbox Records, is another, less familiar document from this timeframe. Recorded for a radio broadcast in Copenhagen, it finds Cherry in the company of some top-drawer Danish musicians: pianist Atli Bjørn, tenor saxophonist Mogens Bollerup, bassist Benny Nielsen, and drummer Simon Koppel. Their output doesn’t suggest an incendiary avant-garde so much as an extended post-bop language, cool-tempered and abidingly hip.
That much is certainly true of the group’s take on the songbook standard “You Took Advantage of Me,” which premieres here. Cherry takes the initial melody with a Harmon mute, at a swinging mid-tempo; then the rhythm section pulls back on the reins, and Bjørn restates the theme in a tender ballad mode. The band gradually eases back into the original tempo, at which point Cherry comes back in, just after 4:00 — without ever having taken a proper solo on the tune.
Cherry Jam was issued for Record Store Day last year, and is now available in both standard and Japanese editions; preorder it here.
Charles Lloyd & the Marvels, “Anthem”
Last month we shared the first single from Tone Poem, the forthcoming album by Charles Lloyd & The Marvels: a roadhouse twist on Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin’.” Blue Note has just released a second track from the album, in a more contemplative key. It’s a stately version of Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem,” which finds Lloyd in softly beseeching form on tenor saxophone, against the vintage denim wash of Bill Frisell’s electric guitar and Greg Leisz’s pedal steel.
The effect is beautiful — and tasteful, perhaps to a fault. Then again, Lloyd is almost certainly familiar with https://youtu.be/mkWmh6KJAXY" target="_blank">Cohen’s original version of the song, which unfurls in triplet meter, with a borderline-maudlin slick of strings. There’s a clear effort here to keep the song grounded — and to keep Cohen’s famous lyrics firmly in mind:
Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in
Tone Poem will be released on Blue Note on March 12; preorder here.
Michael Dease, “Word to the Wise”
Trombonist Michael Dease conceived Give It All You Got — his eighth album for the Posi-Tone label — around the idea of a generational handoff in jazz, and especially the bond between teachers and students. And as director of the The Jazz Institute at Brevard Music Center, about 35 miles south of Asheville, North Carolina, Dease knows this subject from a few different angles. “Word to the Wise” is his nod to the one-on-one mentorship that still thrives in some corners of jazz education.
The tune is an easygoing swinger with an appealing harmonic contour — made all the more so by the company Dease keeps: Anthony Stanco on trumpet, Gregory Tardy on tenor saxophone, Jim Alfredson on organ, Gwendolyn Dease on percussion and Ulysses Owens, Jr. on drums.
Give It All You Got is out this Friday on Posi-Tone Records.
Cowboys & Frenchmen, “American Whispers_ Streams - An Old Church”
Founded in 2015 by saxophonists Owen Broder and Ethan Helm, Cowboys & Frenchmen is a chamber-improv unit that weighs a restless soul against pinpoint precision. Its third release, Our Highway, is out this Friday as a digital album on Outside In Music — and premieres as a video album at Live From Our Living Rooms, the virtual platform Broder created with Thana Alexa and Sirintip.
“American Whispers_ Streams - An Old Church” is a suitelike track from the album that nods obliquely toward the legacies of Paul Bley and Charlie Haden. For a good portion of the piece, Broder and Helm float above the brisk agitation of their rhythm section, composed of pianist Addison Frei, bassist Ethan O’Reilly and drummer Matt Honor. (Frei takes the first solo, nearly running away with the tune.) If this music strikes an evocative chord, make it a priority to see the accompanying video: it intersperses performance footage from SubCulture in New York with scenes drawn from a cross-country tour.
Our Highway releases on Friday; for more information, visit Cowboys & Frenchmen.
Natural Information Society with Evan Parker, “d(OoOC)”
About a year and a half ago, Joshua Abrams brought his band Natural Information Society into London’s Café OTO for a performance featuring an old lion of British free jazz, saxophonist Evan Parker. That concert will soon see release on Eremite as descension (Out of Our Constrictions), and it has already caused a stir, partly on the basis of this track, which runs an intoxicating 17 and a half minutes.
As always in Natural Information Society, Abrams plays guimbri on the track, alongside Jason Stein on bass clarinet, Lisa Alvarado on harmonium and effects, and Mikel Patrick Avery on drums. Parker’s soprano saxophone is a flickering constant, and a catalyst. To listen closely to this piece is to be drawn into its kaleidoscope twirl of rhythm, especially once Avery kicks into house rhythm, roughly five minutes in. As for the controversy that has sprung up around Parker, owing to his public statements about the coronavirus — we’ll address the issue with a link to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 resources page.
descension (Out of Our Constrictions) will be released on April 16; preorder here.