Jazz legend’s spectacular EP, previously only available as a Record Store Day release, finds a larger audience as this 1965 pre-record for Danish national radio gets a well deserved new lease of life.

Listeners of the Jazz genre may well not be familiar with the name of Don Cherry.  Whilst even the most casual of music lovers of a certain vintage can roll off the names of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie etc and their colossal impact on the development and awareness of jazz music since the 1950’s.

Don Cherry, who sadly passed away aged 58 in 1995, also had much to be proud of in his contribution to Jazz.  As a trumpeter and cornet-player par excellence he had a long association with the great Ornette Coleman however his influence and interest was not solely confined to the creative Free Jazz scenes.  He also was a pioneer of world fusion music in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Those who remember Eagled-Eye Cherry’s 1997 UK hit “Save Tonight” will be interested to know that Eagle-Eye is the proud son of Don and although he has also taken a musical career it is very different to the path his father walked.

For this EP Cherry enjoyed the benefits of a stellar line-up with himself on cornet and backed-up by the Danish quartet of Mogens Bollerup on tenor saxophone, Atli Bjørn on piano, Benny Nielsen on double bass and Simon Koppel on drums.

There are three new original compositions of Cherry’s, as well as a classic standard.  Jazz lovers will know which is the classic standard without being told.  For those who don’t know though it would be very tricky to identify any difference in brilliance or quality between any of the tracks.  You could argue they are all classic standards!!

Kicking things off is “The Ambassador from Greenland” which is a rolling hard bop bluesy number that over the course of its six minute run time manages to showcase all of the players skills.  Despite being written in Cherry’s youth the track shows a great maturity and allows his band members to shine in the spotlight alongside him.

There is main melody that occurs throughout the track which is broken up temporarily by mood swings and moments in brief and subtle intensity.

Track Two “You Took Advantage of Me” is a much calmer and introspective piece that was first performed in 1928 by Lorenzo Hart & Richard Rogers.  Cherry keeps true to the emotion of the original but adds his own take backed by the lilting drums of Simon Koppell.

Hard Bop continues with the third track “Priceless” which is led beautifully and soulfully by Bollerup’s sax.  The rest of the players take a backseat for the first half  but keep the rhythm and tempo pushing along to allow Bollerup his moment to shine with Atli Bjorn’s piano taking over halfway through to allow a mid-pace run all the way to the finish line.

Rounding things off is sharp and energetic ebb & flow of “Nigeria”.  If yu have never heard Don Cherry before then this EP may well be a decent place to start.  It demonstrates his burgeoning leadership qualities and talent which would become his trademark in the years following.

Donnie’s Rating: 9/10

Cherry Jam is out on the 26th February 2021 via Gearbox Records.  The EP is to be released as part of the label’s Official Japanese Edition series with a unique obi strip and Japanese liner notes.