today's chillout music (345)

don cherry / blue lake
Don Cherry is one of music's great adventurers. Always ready to stretch himself, he has seemed more concerned with growing as an artist and expanding his horizons than with getting a big paycheck. This live set, Blue Lake, is a worthy introduction to his solo work. The first part of the set begins with Cherry on a Native American flute. His simple song is as moving and spare as a New Mexico mesa. Next, he and his band move into their interpretation of some Dollar Brand tunes. First, they lay the melodies out straight and give the audience a window into this neglected composer's mind. Then it's time for their ferocious, free-wheeling, Ornette Colemanesque take on the same tunes. The last brace of tunes finds Cherry mostly singing á la Sam Rivers. Like Rivers' voicings, one forgets that this is a man, and hears only another instrument. Just when the tension rises to almost unbearable levels, Cherry breaks loose with some forceful, controlled soloing. The tone is muscular, and the ideas as sure and stringent as bitter salt. Cherry's journey as a musician has been that of a consummate artist. His remarkable career deserves stricter attention from fans and critics alike. Hopefully, the reissue of this set will start the ball rolling.

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