What can be said about Don Cherry that hasn’t been said? He was a musical bridge between countless cultures - a titan of the avant-garde and jazz - one of the great, visionary voices of 20th century music for whom there was, and remains, no equivalent. A giant. Like Miles, Ayler, Mingus, Bird, Dizzy, Trane, Ornette, and Pharaoh, the power of his voice carved such a deep path that, more than half a century after he first emerged on the scene, you can still fear the earth shake.
With this in hand, from the vaults of WDR Köln, we’re overjoyed to announce the official release on CD of Cherry’s Universal Silence suite in six parts, recorded live at the Philharmonie Berlin on November 3, 1972, backed the all-star line up of Dollar Brand on Piano and Vocals and Carlos Ward on Alto Sax and Vocals. Fully remastered from the original master tape master and issued by the new imprint, Lepo Glasbo, this is a truly rare event. Album releases don’t get more historically important that this!
Don Cherry shot from the gate - a musical prodigy who could bend his horn to any idea or force of will. Barely into his 20’s, he joined the seminal band which laid the foundation for free jazz, led by Ornette Coleman - through multiple line-ups, collaborating on the jazz titan’s first 9 LPs (and later returning for many more). In 1963 he ventured out on his own, working with Steve Lacy, Sonny Rollins, within the New York Contemporary 5 (Cherry, John Tchicai, Don Moore, J.C. Moses, and Archie Shepp), John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and numerous others, until 1966, when he released his first LP as a leader, Complete Communion, for Blue Note - the first of an astounding body of work which would emerge over the decades, until his untimely passing in 1995.
Cherry’s work as a leader has numerous stages, but a great many of the high point fall within a surprisingly brief and prolific period which extends from the release of Mu - the first entry in the legendary Jazz Actuel series for BYG, in 1969, until Brown Rice in 1975. He was on fire - continuously creating visionary, often radically varied music which repeatedly changed the landscape of jazz. A rare entry from the period which gave us Eternal Rhythm, Orient, Organic Music Society, Relativity Suite, Eternal Now, and Blue Lake, now comes Universal Silence - a stunning piece of work extending across the album, recorded live in Berlin on November 3, 1972, and never officially released. It encounters Cherry playing in a short lived trio which lasted only an handful of dates - making the unique interplay established with legendary players, Dollar Brand and Carlos Ward, also captured on 1974’s The Third World Underground (recorded only 11 days later), that much more important and rare.
Cherry, Brand, and Ward would all continue to work together in different configurations and groups over the coming decades, but what emerges across Universal Silence is relatively unique - three tonal player, rushed with joy, without a rhythm section, filling in all the angles and beats themselves. Shifting from simple song, slow chant, to wild full on, hard blown frantic fire, this is free jazz like only Cherry, one of its true innovators, could unleash - tense as hell, yet remarkable natural and filled with ease. More than 45 years after it fell onto the tape, it’s an incredible thing to behold - like a wound up rubber band transformed into wind. What free improvising is all about.
This is definitely one of the most precious CDs released in the first half of 2020, and it's hard to express how excited we are about it. As essential as they come! Issued in a deluxe digipack edition with 12-page booklet beautiful gatefold cover, it offers 10 pieces of incredible music from this short lived super-group.