One of the towering figures in American music,Don Cherry was part of the revolutionary free-bop quartetled by Ornette Coleman in the late 1950s and early 1960s,an ensemble that helped shift the conversation about jazzfrom chord changes and swing to freedom and energy. Always anindependent spirit, Cherry brought his openness and burgeoningknowledge of traditional musics from around the world to bear onColeman's project, lending an infectious, absolutely original air tothe bold new music. By the late 1960s, the pocket-cornet player wasliving in Sweden, with his wife Moki Karlsson, playing with Swedishmusicians from all backgrounds, seeking out exciting partnersin a somewhat hippie-like atmosphere. It was in this milieu, in thesummers of 1971 and 1972, that Cherry recorded the tracks for hislegendary double LP, Organic Music Society, which was released onCaprice and is now reissued on vinyl.
The sessions that comprise Organic Music Society are varied andrepresent several directions in Cherry's oeuvre. Only two tracks('Elixir' and 'Relativity Suite') were recorded in a studio setting;the rest of the music was made live, in wildly divergent circumstances.Along with various top-notch Swedish players - BengtBerger, Christer BothÃ©n, Tommy Koverhult - the accomplicesinclude Turkish percussionist Okay Temiz and an early appearanceby the Brazilian berimbau specialist NanÃ¡ Vasconcelos. Cherryhimself performs on pocket cornet, but also on voice, harmonium,flute, conch shell, and piano. Compositions include some familiarmaterial, such as 'Relativity Suite' and Pharoah Sanders' classic'The Creator Has a Master Plan,' and fascinating material fromDollar Brand ('Bra Joe from Kilimanjaro') and even the worldminimalistcomposer Terry Riley ('Terry's Tune'). Some tracks arelong, loose, and meditative ('North Brazilian Ceremonial Hymn'),while others are taut and bracing; on one track, a 50-piece stringorchestra accompanies the band. Across the board, on OrganicMusic Society we find Cherry's intense interest in multiculturalsounds, in the intersections of improvisation and folk music, andthe expansion of jazz into a melting pot of sonic experience.
Don Cherry (vocals, percussion, harmonium, flute, conch, h'suan, trumpet); Nana Vasconcelos (vocals, berimbau, percussion); Moki (vocals, tambura); Helen Eggert (vocals, Tambura); Christer Bothen (donso n'goni, gnaoua guitar, piano); Bengt Berger (mridanga, log drums, drums); Maffy Falay (muted trumpet); Tommy Goldman, Tommy Koverhult (flutes); Tage Siven (bass); Okay Temiz (drums)