Recent listening, current

Saturday, June 20, 2015

204. Don Cherry / Art Deco (1988)

Credited to Cherry, this session belongs to the same unit that worked together before Cherry, Haden, and Higgins historically joined ranks with Ornette Coleman. It's a beautiful straight set, comprised of cooly executed standards, originals, and several Coleman covers. The quartet is familiar and tight. I haven't listened to much of James Clay's past work, but now I wish I had more of it on hand to explore. His deep, supple lines in "Body and Soul" put a fresh coat on the old song, mixing wry bop phrasing with bursts of unexpected tonal color and bluesy swagger. Cherry takes a rest while Higgins and Haden nimbly sidestep one another before Haden builds a short solo. The ensemble picks up again behind Clay's last chorus and the plaintively emotive outro for solo tenor. Monk's "Bemsha Swing" comes next, where Cherry and Clay get most of the spots, but leave room for Higgins. Higgins, Cherry, and Haden each get time alone on "Passing," "Maffy," and "Folk Medley," quiet, introspective spaces that give listeners a chance to appreciate their individualism. Eight-bars-and-blow gets old, I agree, but these renderings sagely belie that trope with wit, spirit, and a genuine enjoyment for the music Do you love great jazz? Find it, buy it.

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