When our son David Ornette Cherry was born to Don and I in 1958, he along with his sister Jan Elisia Cherry and Denardo Coleman ate, slept and toddled through the historic Los Angeles Mariposa Street rehearsals and "woodshedding" of the original Ornette Coleman quintet of Ornette, alto sax; David's father, Don Cherry, pocket trumpet; Walter Norris, piano; Don Payne, bass; and Billy Higgins, drums (Something Else! Contemporary Records (S7551).
In 1958 and 1959, the Mariposa address was a mecca and literal home
for the curious and for creators and
producers of contemporary music who came to listen and "sit in" or just question the process of collective improvisation. Some of these open-minded and curious contributors and supporters of the music were bassists Charlie Haden, Percy Heath, Red Mitchell, and Scott LaFaro; drummers Lawrence Marable, Frank Butler, and Shelley Mann; pianists Elmo and Bertha Hope, John Lewis, and Horace Tabscott; and Atlantic Records Nesuhi Ertegun among others.
David was there‹growing up with some of the most prominent names in
contemporary jazz! He was there when Coleman, Cherry, Haden and Higgins
made their opening New York City debut at the Five Spot Café in
late 1959. He was there when we shared a loft on Bleeker Street with Steve
Lacy, soprano saxophonist, and where music ran rampant. He was there for
the John Coltrane rehearsals which produced his father¹s first solo
album, The Avant-Garde (Atlantic1451). So, it seems by osmosis that he
absorbed the music which eventually emerged as his primary love and he
began to shed the basketball courts, marching bands and things that teenagers
growing up in South Central Los Angeles, better known as Watts, California.
During the years of his musical development, David attended Bishop College
in Dallas, Texas for several years
concentrating on music theory and playing with blues bands in nearby towns.
He then enrolled in California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California where he and fellow musician John L Price produced its first multi-media festival which emphasized African American music. Both were responsible and spearheaded the inclusion of jazz as a standard part of the Institute's curriculum. He was a part of the Creative Music Summer Studio in Woodstock, New York where he studied with his father and other renowned world musicians.
David lived with Don in Sweden and began to learn keyboards and in New
York he began to take interest in the
flute and melodica. He worked and toured with Don's Codona group, his Magic Show at Antibes and other
European venues, at the Watts Tower Summer Festival and the World Music Festival in Washington, DC.
His father --who Ornette admittedly states in liner notes on the album, This is Our Music (Atlantic SD-1353) that Don "knows more of my compositionsthan I can remember" -- was prolific in his teachings of Ornette¹s tunes to David, two of which appear for the first time on this CD. What David brings to the listening audience from this wealth of experience are his ideas, early influences and experimentations with electronic music. His compositions are a musical fusion of cultures laid firmly down on a foundation of purely garage-style rhythms heavily layered with the beats, syncopations and musical dialogues of world music in all of its diversity. Simply, as David aptly states, "The music that I compose is an extension of what I learned from my dad--a fusion of organic, harmolodic, multi-cultural and urban garagestyle beats. So in defining the music, it's a fusion of textures, sounds, lifestyles,surroundings, and messages in a universal language emphasizing a positive state of mind."
"Impressions of Energy" is the name of the superb ensemble of great musicians delivering the energetic and forceful collective sounds.
As for the CD offerings, David's composition Distant Glance takes you on a peaceful, hypnotic journey punctuated by colorful forays of restful and melodious trombone, saxophone and flute intervals and rhythm patterns.
The Memory of Things is an Ornette Coleman composition long forgotten by him but well-remembered by Don who taught it to David many years ago. In granting permission to use the composition, Ornette also named it. The Memory is a poignant melodica and bass duo featuring David and Roberto Miranda. It is oddly reminiscent of years gone past marred by the struggles and deaths of so many who stood the ground for musical diversity and acceptance.
Escape to Jazziland is a piece formulated by David to express
movement or journey through the world fusing
different cultural sounds, textures and colors. "There should be no guidelines to our capabilities to create and
extend the music. I wanted this tune to be an extension of what happened to our ancestors. Cut off from our original culture and lack of knowledge about the tribe or exact African country we are from provides African Americans with the unique opportunity of being a universal voice. For these reasons, I am compelled to draw from all sources and present a universality in my compositions," David emphatically states.
David is adamant that things seen and experienced in our surroundings
and environments must be honestly
expressed through the creative voices of artists by the content of music, dance, the written word, painting, drawing, sculpting, graphics, and film.
From Top to Bottom is the second Ornette Coleman composition
on this recording. David was immediately
inspired when he first heard Coleman¹s group Prime Time primarily because they collectively stayed in theme and
thought with eloquent and free elaborations on the theme. "They milk and groove the melody out without giving up
freedom of expression," but "when you have a great foundation like a Coleman melody, the possibilities of
expression are infinite," he says. David is ever exploring the harmolodic system devised by Ornette which reveals a different realm of and level of creativity. From Top to Bottom is a tribute to the essence of Prime Time.
Moroccan Garage is a street scene and marketplace of sound and
activity. David wanted this composition to
have a collective groove reflective, again, of a fusion of cultures. When explaining this piece, he relates to Los
Angeles --the car capital of the world where possessing a car is just as important as possessing a garage to park it in. But it was usually the garage that doubled as the rehearsal studio for most musicians. You can¹t see them but can only hear the incredible sounds emanating from the garage and sounding like its coming from everywhere. David choose a Moroccan marketplace to drive home this concept which includes sintir and vocals of Hassan Hakmoun.
Folayan, a Nigerian/Yoruba name which means "to walk in dignity,"
was written by David for yours truly‹his
mother. Upon hearing this composition for the first time, I was extremely touched by David's musical perception of me. It is quite a gratifying feeling. Quite simply, he is saying "when you meet and talk to people, be sensitive to what they are saying but do not compromise your dignity; hold your head up and be proud of who you are."
Return to Codonia is David's composition and tribute to his father. When he traveled with Codona in Europe, Don, Nana Vasconcelos, and Colin Walcott would say that they were going to Codonia. When the band hit the stage it was magical. It took the audience to many places and brought them back safely. David says, "It is one of the most incredible things I¹ve ever experienced." This piece is in remembrance of his travels with his father who died in October 1995 but who is still with us through his children, family, friends, fellow musicians, and his vast musical contribution to the world. And, David along with Don¹s other children intend to carry on their rich musical inheritance.
"Impressions of Energy "
… David Ornette Cherry, keyboards, melodica, spoken word -- expressive
… Roberto Miguel Miranda, bass --masterful and melodic
… Bobby Bradford, cornet --brilliant musician and griot of the music
… Ralph "Buzzy" Jones, reeds and piano --a creative force
… Hassan Hakmoun, sintir and vocals --inspiring (only on Moroccan Garage)
… Phil Ranelin, trombone --dynamic and finds the spaces
… Ray Yslas, percussion‹harmonic
… Ollie Elder, Jr., electronic bass --powerful
… Jan Cherry, violin, vocals --elegant and simplistic
… Blair Sherill, drummer --swings
… John L. Price, percussion --tasteful
… Amber Hopson, rap/spoken word --innovative groves
… Dwight Carroll, guitar --naturally rhythmic
… Howard Starks, vocals --smooth
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