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.
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?