Don Cherry, Complete Communion

Kevin Whitehead

By Kevin Whitehead

on 05.18.11 in Reviews

Complete Communion

Don Cherry
The ideal collaborator puts it all together

Around 1960 or so, the pocket-trumpeter was every radical saxophonist's perfect partner: He played rubbery lines with Ornette Coleman, tempered Coltrane's fire with puckish wit, egged Sonny Rollins on in marathon improvisations, and made jazz from bugle calls with Albert Ayler. Then he started recording on his own, and put all that together. Complete Communion from 1965 was early in a series of Cherry LPs featuring long continuous suites with plenty of animated blowing from him and tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri — Ayler reborn as an Argentine romantic. To ensure variety and fresh ideas, a catchy new theme or interlude comes along every few minutes. Good as those horns are, the scene-stealers are bassist Henry Grimes (from Rollins's band) and drummer Edward Blackwell (from Ornette's), doubly nimble together. At any moment Blackwell may play ahead of, behind or on top of the beat, and Grimes stays with him every step.