Personnel: Don Cherry (cornet); Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone, piccolo); Leandro "Gato" Barbieri (tenor saxophone); Karl Berger (vibraphone, piano); Henry Grimes, Jenny Clark (bass); Edward Blackwell (drums).
Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on September 19, 1966. Includes liner notes by A.B. Spellman.
Personnel: Don Cherry (trumpet, cornet); Don Cherry ; Henry Grimes, Jean-Fran‡ois Jenny-Clark (bass instrument); Pharoah Sanders (piccolo, tenor saxophone); Gato Barbieri (tenor saxophone); Karl Berger (piano, vibraphone); Ed Blackwell (drums).
Audio Remasterer: Rudy Van Gelder.
Liner Note Author: Bob Blumenthal.
Recording information: New York, NY (09/19/1966); Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, NJ (09/19/1966).
Photographer: Francis Wolff.
Whether essaying his skittering, free-form variations on cornet, trumpet or pocket trumpet, the endlessly melodic creations of Don Cherry were a triumph of imagination over technique. Cherry was one of the most recognizable improvisers in all of jazz, who overcame his lack of virtuoso chops with melodic and harmonic resourcefulness, terrific swing and a childlike delight in the joy of a toy. There is a playfulness and a sense of discovery to his music--particularly his three masterful sessions for Blue Note--that mitigates the emotional gravity and rhythmic turbulence of his creations.
Often overshadowed by his legendary collaborators, it remains no coincidence that on the greatest recordings by such stalwart innovators as Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, Don Cherry was their whimsical, fluttering foil. And given a chance to lead his own ensembles by Blue Note impresario Alfred Lion, Cherry responded with some melodically charming, rhythmically tumultuous works.
SYMPHONY FOR IMPROVISERS, the second work of his legendary triptych, expands upon Cherry's basic two horns/two rhythm format with the addition of saxophonist Pharaoh Sanders, bassist Jenny Clark and vibraphonist Karl Berger--all masters of the emerging new thing. The results range from flashes of extreme turbulence (the delirious double-time of the title track) to moments of exquisite spiritual serenity (the ecstatic, child-like waltz, "What's Not Serious").
Cherry employs a suite form, in which expressive melodic riffs melt into moments of powerful collective improvisation like movements in a symphony. It's all held together by the unbelievable sound and swing of bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Ed Blackwell, who expand upon the basic time to create powerful conversational forms. Saxophonists Barbieri and Sanders engage in some wild tenor exchanges on "Lunatic" and "Sparkle Plenty," and Berger's dancing, polytonal vibes give the ensemble a lush, bell-like dimension without limiting anyone's harmonic palette.