Cherry Picking

[untitled 3]
Hamid Drake & Mats Gustafsson
For Don Cherry
OkkaDisk : 1995

HD, percussion; MG, reeds.

On the day Don Cherry died — 19 October 1995 — Drake and Gustafsson took the stage in Chicago and recorded a forty-minute set that is remarkable for its sensitivity and resonance. Though it is unclear whether the duo were aware of Cherry’s passing before taking the stage, there is nevertheless a depth of feeling that it’s all too easy to ascribe to the loss of a musical master. And in Drake’s case, a musical mentor.

Drake and Gustafsson have since gone on to record a number of dates together, principally as members of Peter Brotzmann’s Chicago Tentet. But this first recorded meeting retains a significance that goes well beyond the hyper-limited OkkaDisk run of 600-odd CDs.

For those who enjoy the playing here, we can recommend many (more readily available) recordings by these two gentlemen. Drake has made several wonderful discs with bass player William Parker, including one of the great albums of the decade, Sound Unity, and a live set with the David Ware Quartet — one of the Live in the  World CDs. We also dig Gustafsson’s work with fuzzsters The Thing, notably on Garage (Sonics cover!) and Action Jazz (Lightning Bolt cover!). Jason G at Restructures has fortunately been chronicling the careers of both Mats and Hamid; their discographies can be found here and here.

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Oddly enough, we recall where we were the day that Don Cherry died. Thurston Moore announced Cherry’s passing from the stage at a Sonic Youth show and dedicated a magnificently extended version of ‘The Diamond Sea” to him. Maybe it wasn’t as dramatic as first hearing about JFK’s assassination (not that we’re old enough to know) or even Kurt Cobain’s suicide (not that we’re admitting we got weepy), but it was a touching moment nonetheless.

What jazz deaths have most affected you?

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