August 5, 2017

Don Cherry - Where Is Brooklyn? (1966)

Where Is Brooklyn? is the third Don Cherry/Blue Note album; recorded just a few months after the Symphony For Improvisors session. The style of the album art is typical of late 60s Blue Note, but don't be fooled, the album was recorded in 1966--the tapes were just held for a few years. Small-group free jazz from the late 50s and early 60s is my favorite from the subgenre with Brooklyn being is among the best I've heard in that style. I'm not too into jazz anymore, so this grabbing my ear right off the bat is significant to me. Where Is Brooklyn? is a rare glimpse into the early career of Pharoah Sanders, and on top of that shows him in a very focused quartet. He's absolutely fantastic on this record and is probably 100% of the reason why I prefer this to Cherry's other small-group Blue Note session, Complete Communion. The other album features the Argentinian tenor player Gato Barbieri, a superb avant-garde saxophonist by all means, but I don't think he quite matches Sanders' intensity and well-reigned craziness this time around. However, I'm not a fan of mid-track or even mid-album instrument changes, especially with focused small-group stuff, so I'm not entirely on board with Sanders jumping over to picolo towards the end of the album--whatever. Also, don't expect to hear quite the same link between Sanders and Cherry as you would with Ornette Coleman and Cherry. The now-familiar rhythm duo of Henry Grimes and Ed Blackwell kills it again. Since my other favorite sessions involving Grimes are all big-band efforts, this is the first time I've really been able to let his playing sink in. He sounds, to me, like a hybrid of Ron Carter (soft and omniscient presence) and Richard Davis (note choice and shit similar to those octave jumps); top tier stuff. If you're like me and like to take afternoon naps to small-group, comfy free jazz inspired by Atlantic-era Ornette Coleman and early Cecil Taylor, then this will be one of your favorites.