Don Cherry – Live in Stockholm – Caprice CAP21832, 77:16 [11/4/13] (Distr. by Naxos) ***1/2:
(Don Cherry – pocket trumpet, flute, piano, percussion, vocals; Maffy Falay – trumpet, flutes, percussion; Bernt Rosengran – tenor saxophone, flute, percussion (tracks 1-2); Tommy Koverhult – tenor saxophone, flutes, percussion (tracks 1-2), flute (track 3); Torbjörn Hultcrantz – bass (tracks 1-2); Leif Wennerström – drums (tracks 1-2); Rolf Olsson – bass (track 3); Okay Temiz – drums (track 3))
Sweden’s Caprice label continues with its appreciation of trumpeter Don Cherry’s Swedish years (he resided and performed in the Scandinavian country from 1965 to 1985), with the never-before-released Live in Stockholm, which contains three lengthy improvisations recorded in 1968 and 1971. This was an illustrative era for Cherry: he had already started to move away from the post-bop jazz he had conceived in America as a member of Ornette Coleman’s group, and was creating world music or global-collective jazz which permeated his life after leaving the states. Live in Stockholm serves as a companion to 1972’s Organic Music Society (reissued by Caprice in 2012). Both albums feature some of the same musicians, some of the same themes or ideas, and showcase the unconventional material Cherry produced from the late ‘60s and onward. Live in Stockholm was distributed in late 2013 as vinyl, compact disc and digital download. This review refers to the CD.
The long, two-part ABF suites were named after the Arbetarnas Bildningsförbund (or ABF), translated into English as the Worker’s Educational Association. The ABF sponsored, supported and paid Swedish musicians to teach academic courses and Cherry was a leader of one such jazz program for several semesters, which led to the two opening gatherings (taped at the ABF House) on Live in Stockholm. The final, extended piece, “Another Dome Session,” was taped during the same session found on Organic Music Society: thus, this has the same personnel from that recording, but not the same music. The ensembles Cherry led were multi-national groups which consisted of Turkish trumpeter Muvaffak “Maffy” Falay (who had come to Sweden in 1960) and later formed the band Sevda, which also involved Swedish saxophonists Bernt Rosengran and Tommy Koverhult, and Turkish drummer Okay Temiz (who are all participants in either the 1968 or 1971 sessions on Live in Stockholm).
It is obvious on the 23-minute opener, “ABF Suite, Part 1,” Cherry had, by 1968, discarded the standard jazz idiom of using one person on one instrument and verse-chorus-verse structures; while he plays pocket trumpet he also utilizes flutes, piano, percussion, and wordless vocals. And while the sextet members do take solo statements, there is mostly a shared sense of experimentation and of an assemblage improvising as a single unit. There are numerous musical inflections, a twirling development of ebbing and fluid energy, as ideas and sounds occur. Divergent melodies arise, usually in short, sliced segments, which are joined to other motifs, or turned and twisted. The mood is shapes and shifts, from animated fragments to quieter bits fronted by flute or percussion (drums are credited to Sweden’s Leif Wennerström). It’s difficult to tell from one moment to another when Falay or Cherry is on trumpet, or which saxophonist is in the spotlight, but the aesthetic groundwork is what’s important, not the individual.
The 26-minute “ABF Suite, Part 2,” has an equivalent kind of configuration, temperament and tonality. There are sedate instances almost sanctified in feeling, and musical pyrotechnics where drums, percussion, trumpets and saxophones ply fast-flowing passages. While the personalities of separate musicians can be discerned, Cherry often directs the instruments into an all-inclusive auditory environment which pivots to his creative muse. Everyone has plenty of freedom but the specific spontaneity of each artist always is woven into Cherry’s inspirational aural tapestry.
Although three years divide the ABF suites from the 28-minute “Another Dome Session,” the character and the vibe are comparable to the 1968 recordings. This 1971 gathering used a quintet: Cherry, Falay, and Koverhult (only on flute) from the 1968 outing, plus Swedish bassist Rolf Olsson and drummer Okay Temiz. The presentation, like Organic Music Society, was recorded inside a dome designed by Buckminster Fuller at Stockholm’s Museum of Modern Art. Temiz offers a different rhythmic foundation than Wennerström, and the piece at times has a more open, contemplative feel. The expansive music has several movements. One highlight early on is a stately Cherry trumpet solo amid pulsating percussion which is blended with entwining whistles and random voices (Cherry’s children can be heard). Because there is no sax, the flute is much more pronounced and helps give the suite a higher, otherworldly aspect. Cherry switches to piano about a third of the way through, when the undertaking acquires an agreeable accessibility, and fashions lines reminiscent of Vince Guaraldi. The music progressively becomes enthusiastic, and the instruments and Cherry’s chanting wrap around each other into a stimulating, ever-increasing momentum, which swells into a muscular upsurge headed by dynamic piano chords.
The audio quality is uniformly expressive throughout. Lighter elements such as shakers and flutes are not drowned out by louder instruments such as horns or drums, although the chanting is sometimes too low or seems muted, and the piano also is not as escalated in the mix as the horns or percussion. The CD package is nicely done. The slightly larger-than-normal, foldout slipcase (a bit taller than a typical CD digipak) has one pocket for a 16-page booklet with crisp, black-and-white historical photos, informative liner notes in English written by Thomas Millroth and Jan Bruér, and complete liner notes and credits; the other pocket houses the CD in a red sleeve.
TrackList: ABF Suite, Part 1; ABF Suite, Part 2; Another Dome Session.