NEWS: Gearbox Records to release EP of Don Cherry rarities; hear ‘The Ambassador From Greenland’

Don Cherry, photographed by Riccardo Schawamenthal

LONDON’S Gearbox Recotds is carrying the torch and keeping the analogue fires burning from its own bespoke production facility in the capital, has unearthed some proper jazz treasure: a quartet of sides that Don Cherry cut for Danish Radio in the mid-Sixties; and the label is issuing ’em on wax, strickly mono, 45rpm. How about that?

The EP, entitled Cherry Jam, was previously only available as a Record Store Day release and features previously unheard recordings. It’s to be released as part of Gearbox’s Official Japanese Edition series, with a unique obi strip and Japanese liner notes, and in which series the EP will be taking place alongside other sexy-looking forthcoming releases by Abdullah Ibrahim, Yusuf Lateef, Buddy Rich – even Nico.

The 1965 radio concert features Don Cherry on cornet, Mogens Bollerup on tenor sax, Atli Bjørn on piano, Benny Nielsen on double bass, and Simon Koppel on drums. The quintet laid down one standard and three brand-new originals for the session – hey, check out “The Ambassador from Greenland” below.

Don was quick to catch the new wave of improvisational jazz in the early Sixties, moving from working with Blue Note legend Sonny Rollins to Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman, with whom he recorded The Shape Of Jazz To Come.

By the turn of the Seventies he was recording challenging work right out on the edges, such as the tape-loop collaboration Human Music with Don Appleton, and the brilliant, two-part flute and percussion odyssey Mu.

He would have a long association with Denmark, performing and recording there with Archie Shepp in ’63, touring the country with Albert Ayler in ’64, and taking on a residency at Copenhagen’s hip Cafe Montmartre in 1966.

The EP captures Don midway through the decade on a programme originally broadcast by Danmarks Radio. It was in this same year that Cherry would record his landmark Blue Note album, Complete Communion.

Don Cherry and pianist Atli Bjørn had been jamming regularly, leading to that radio ‘in’.

“The Ambassador from Greenland” set sail on a crisp bluesy bass descent, and allows Don free flight to test the limits of the theme set up, trilling with fluid acuity and bringing it right back again.

Don Cherry’s Cherry Jam EP will be released by Gearbox Records digitally, on 180gsm 12″ vinyl and CD on February 26th; you can pre-order right now, direct from the label or from Bandcamp.

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