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Neneh Cherry’s Freedom Thing

The adventurous vocalist finds common ground with a free-jazz trio

Neneh Cherry and the Thing
Neneh Cherry

At first glance, it wouldn’t seem like Neneh Cherry and The Thing would have much in common. Cherry is the singer best known for her 1988 hip-hop/dance smash “Buffalo Stance,” while The Thing are the Scandinavian trio best known for their blistering free-jazz eruptions.

But a look at their respective biographies reveals quite a bit of overlap. Cherry and Thing saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, for instance, share a homeland in Sweden. (Gustafsson’s triomates, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten and Paal Nilssen-Love, hail from Norway.) There’s also their common ground in adventurous rock: Cherry started with the British post-punk group Rip Rig + Panic when she was 16, while The Thing have covered the likes of PJ Harvey and the White Stripes, and have conjured squalls of noise with Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore.

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