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Don Cherry: Live at Café Montmartre 1966

Recorded by the American trumpeter Cherry with a band that included the German vibist Karl Berger, French/Italian drummer Aldo Romano, Argentine tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri and Danish bassist Bo Stief, this is proof enough that by 1966 free-jazz was certainly a worldwide phenomenon. The music is taken from a live performance broadcast from Copenhagen’s Café Montmartre, widely known as the Scandinavian redoubt for expatriate American jazz musicians of that era. The band plays in the rhythmically and harmonically ambiguous bag pioneered by Cherry and Ornette Coleman: lots of collective improvisation, with singing melodies played over roiling, out-of-time rhythms and the occasional boppish head played in ragged unison by the horns and vibes. The repertoire consists mainly of Cherry originals, one of which-“Complete Communion”-was the title piece for the classic Blue Note LP he recorded shortly before the tour that resulted in this album. The playing is consistently exquisite, with Cherry in top form and Barbieri reminding us just how burning a free player he once was. This is music that matters, and is highly recommended.

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