Album reviews

David Ornette Cherry – ‘Organic Nation Listening Club (The Continual)

David Ornette Cherry – Organic Nation Listening Club (The Continual)

(Spiritmuse Records – Album review by Graham Spry)

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David Ornette Cherry, son of trumpeter Don Cherry, was born at the time when his father was recording classic albums such as Something Else!!!! with Ornette Coleman. He belongs to a musically active and geographically spread family that includes his internationally famous step-siblings Neneh Cherry and Eagle-Eye Cherry with whom he has recorded on occasion. On his latest album Organic Nation Listening Club (The Continual), he performs with a diverse ensemble including his nieces Tyson McVey and Naima Karlsson. David Ornette Cherry is the surviving member of the Cherry family who, arguably, stays truest to his father’s legacy, in particular the musical style of Brown Rice, his father’s bestselling and most accessible album.

David Ornette Cherry has in common with his father a set of deeply-held spiritual and cosmic beliefs that might be described as ‘New Age’ and which are certainly pervasive on the US West Coast where he lives. They also align well with the ethos of the London-based label Spiritmuse Records, which aims to produce “carefully curated products for a deep listening, spiritual experience”. A favourite word for Cherry is ‘organic’, not only in the album’s title, but in earlier records such as Organic Groove, Organic Roots and Organic Express. The sincerity of Cherry’s spiritual and political beliefs come across particularly in tracks such as So & So & So and So, Ancestors Are Calling and Organic Talk, which all feature spoken word declamations that spell them out over an infectious rhythm – these are some of the strongest tracks on the album.

David Ornette Cherry is a multi-instrumentalist who plays percussion, electronics and keyboards, but also the douss’n gouni—a Wassoulou cousin of the kora—that is featured on the album cover. There are too many collaborators on the album to name them all individually, but they include Tyson McVeyand Hummingbird onvocal soundscapes, Crystal Blackcreek Carlisle onspiritual messages, Naima Karlsson on electric piano, Gemi Taylor on guitar, John L. Price on an assortment of percussive instruments and Ralph Jones III on flutes. And in amongst the musicians, a variety of electronic sounds and samples are used effectively, in particular the descending sitar drop that punctuates the vocal interplay on the opening track So & So & So and So.

However, Brown Rice is not the only reference point from his father’s discography that can be cited as an influence for his music. Whilst tracks such as Parallel Experience, Cultural Workers (The Continual) and Cosmic Nomad settle into that record’s familiar hypnotic groove, some like Hidden Sounds and The Frame of Creativity are more unsettlingly discordant, whilst others such as Eagle Play and Najour have a more overt World Music ambience. The album satisfyingly blends diverse ethnic musical traditions with electronics and modern jazz. The instrumentation is generally unorthodox even when the music most echoes modern jazz classics, such as where the first few bars of Cosmic Nomad deliberately reference Miles Davis’ trumpet on Bitches Brew.

This album is a reminder that whereas the yearning for a spiritual truth expressed through music and emerging from nature may have originally emanated from the West Coast, and specifically from figures such as Don Cherry, it is now universal.

LINK: Organic Nation Listening Club on Bandcamp

Organic Nation Listening Club (The Continual) is released today 15 October 2021

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