AS SERIOUS AS YOUR LAUGH
Or: Don Cherry Raps!

ALPHABET CITY
BAMAKO LOVE
RAPPIN’ RECIPE
Don Cherry
Home Boy
Barclay : 1985

Alphabet City & Rappin’ Recipe: DC, pocket trumpet, vocals, doussn’ gouni, piano, synthesizer, melodica; Ramauntcho Matta, guitar; Jannick Top, bass; Negrito Trasante, bongos, congos, talking drum, rhythm box; Polo Lombardo, konks; Claude Salmieri, drums. Bamako Love: DC, plus Fil Mong, bass; Jean-Pierre Coco, congas; Abdoulaye Prosper Niang, drums; Elli Medeiros, backing vocals.

HOT FUN IN THE SUMMERTIME
As the weather decidedly breaks in the direction of summer, we’re offering up some breezy tracks that are sheer fun and unalloyed joy. Pure sunshine encoded in a digital file, ya’ll!

PURE POP FOR NOW PEOPLE
In the mid 1980s, French producer and guitarist Ramuntcho Matta approached Don Cherry with the idea of creating a commercial pop album. Intrigued by the challenge, Cherry wrote a number of original tunes that drew on his love of funk, doo wop, Malian music, reggae, soul, and even hip hop. In a better world these efforts would’ve stormed the charts, but the results still offer pleasures that should woo even your jazz-hatin’ honey.

RELAX THAT ASS
Years ago, these sort of lighthearted tracks probably would’ve made us roll our eyes in poorly disguised condescension and derision. You see, we didn’t have time for any jazz that wasn’t as Serious As Your Life. Fortunately we’re younger than that now and can say to our formerly uptight selves — unclench those sphincters, already!

DON CHERY SELLS OUT
Not even close. Rather than some crass cash-in, these idiosyncratic tracks reveal yet another facet of Cherry’s multifarious music. He always ignored the constraints and hierarchies of genre and his sophisticating trumpet playing still soars among the programmed beats, elastic funk grooves, ethnic polyrhythms, etcetera. Many of his musical preoccupations remain in place, it’s just the emphasis that’s shifted.

AIN’T NO AVENUE D NOW
If the funky strut “Alphabet City” doesn’t carve a smile in yer mug, Don’s droll delivery should do the trick. He even provides an unusual Lower East Side geography lesson. The swooning textures and percolating Malian rhythms of “Bamako Love” could be mistaken for the latest Amadou and Mariam release and equals their fine efforts. Blissful beauty.

HOW TO MAKE SWEET POTATO SALAD
You were curious, right? Don’t say we never did nothing for your kitchen. “Rappin’ Recipe” is not only an exuberant evocation of early hip hop grooves, Don also provides his recipe for Sweet Potato Salad. (Next week: Cooking the Free Jazz Way!). As a bonus, he lists some of his favorite records: Dinah Washington, Cecil Taylor, Talking Heads, and more! Dig it.

STAY TUNED
Over the next two months, we’ve got some seriously meaty posts upcoming. A memorial tribute to Billy Bang, exclusive interviews plus new & old music from George Lewis and Wadada Leo Smith, Sun Ra rarities, guest posts about Ed Wilkerson and Anthony Davis, and more!

TELL US IN THE COMMENTS
What’re some of your favorite jazz tracks that offer unalloyed pleasures and/or detours into more pop territory?

Discussion8 Comments Category Don Cherry Tags , , ,

8 Responses to AS SERIOUS AS YOUR LAUGH
Or: Don Cherry Raps!

  1. Dizzy Gillespie’s version of “Sunny Side of the Street” is raucous and joyous. And then there’s his “Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac.”

  2. This a track from Miles Davis’ Doo-Bop.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B1j6tLEjiA. It’s not bad. Although, my favorite song from that album is the posthumous track “Fantasy”. Really cool sample.

  3. Ha! I was going to confess a guilty fondness for “Doo-Bop” too. That video, though, it is… well, it could not be more completely the way it is, if you know what I mean.

    The Ornette tracks with Jerry Garcia are ridiculously catchy. Greg Osby’s old rap stuff was actually pretty good though not exactly lighthearted. The James Carter/Lester Bowie “FreeReggaeHiBop” probably belongs on the list too. And “Rockit.”

  4. Theme de Yoyo by the Art Ensemble of Chicago – perfect fusion of free jazz, funk and soul.

  5. wow is this the legendary coked-out era of the don Don Cherry? (No disrespect at all meant, just in the interest of historical record, aka I’ve heard some stories…)

  6. My wife and I have been making “Don Cherry’s Sweet Potato Salad” for years.

  7. @Joshua: not sure if you are speaking metaphorically or not, but either way it’s a great comment.

  8. A big favorite of mine is a slightly later Don Cherry cut, “Until the Rain Comes”, from 1990, love that jam…

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