The art of the improvisers beyond all borders. Preaching equality for all the idioms, anticipating the gathering wave of “world music”, drawing on traditions from all the continents, Codona was like no other band. Its sound: simultaneously poetic and powerfully evocative and stamped, in every second, with character. Summoned into being by Collin Walcott in 1978, the trio provided an utterly original context for Don Cherry’s starkly melodic trumpet and for the multi-instrumentalism of all three players.
"Aquarela do Brasil," an unofficial anthem of Brazil, may have received literally thousands of different version and interpretations, but even then, Egberto and Brazilian percussionist Naná Vasconcelos (his sole accompanist here) were able to devise an extremely original version, which opens with an unassuming stylized samba introduction, slowly bringing elements which conduce the listener to the piece's identification. Egberto is very fond of percussive attacks and ethereal configurations, both acquiring superior importance in his music, not being necessarily attached to or supportive for a musical theme or melody.
Fragments: Modern Tradition is a collection of compositions written by Nana Vasconcelos for six films. The music is appropriately atmospheric, and takes on a myriad of ethnic influences from around the world. Indeed, the first track "Vento Chamando Vento" sounds amazingly similar to fellow multi-ethnicists Dead Can Dance. Vasconcelos utilizes a variety of percussion instruments – cowbells, shakers and drums – to achieve the sounds of open landscapes. The album is not all space and wind, however. A fine backing band helps Vasconcelos create a number of musical textures, including the incredibly peppy "Forro Para Antero" and the poly-rhythmic "Let's Go to the Jungle."
This 1979 recording is probably Afro-experimentalist Vasconcelos' finest. It presents his various facets – berimbao playing, intricate overlain vocals, fine percussion, even gorgeous guitar – simply and almost overwhelmingly. This is one of those performances that remind one to never let natural dogmatism get too out of hand.
If Eternal Rhythm was Don Cherry's world fusion masterpiece of the '60s, then Brown Rice is its equivalent for the '70s. But where Eternal Rhythm set global influences in a free jazz framework, Brown Rice's core sound is substantially different, wedding Indian, African, and Arabic music to Miles Davis' electrified jazz-rock innovations. And although purists will likely react here the same way they did to post-Bitches Brew Davis, Brown Rice is a stunning success by any other standard. By turns hypnotic and exhilarating, the record sounds utterly otherworldly: the polyrhythmic grooves are deep and driving, the soloing spiritual and free, and the plentiful recording effects trippy and mysterious.
Two previously unreleased 1960s performances by Don Cherry in quintet format. The first show was recorded in Denmark in 1963 (but a different date that the release on Storyville) and showcases the New York Contemporary Five, featuring Cherry with Archie Shepp, John Tchicai, Don Moore and J.C. Moses.
One of Don Cherry's most spiritual, far-reaching projects – a wonderful record that builds both on his key avant work of the 60s, and some of the globally-inspired sounds he was cutting overseas! This date was done in close collaboration with the New York underground of the time – and the large group features work from a rich array of great musicians – including Charles Brackeen on soprano and alto sax, Carlos Ward on alto, Frank Lowe and Dewey Redman on tenors, Charlie Haden on bass, Carla Bley on piano, and Ed Blackwell on drums – working with additional string and percussion players in a sound that's completely sublime! There's a great ear here for unusual sonic twists and turns, yet these are mixed with some deeper organic tones, and some freer jazz passages – all to really ignite a great fire as the set rolls on.
Lou Reed was touring in support of Rock and Roll Heart, when he rolled into L.A.'s Roxy and played a set that was recorded for later radio broadcast. Reed and his road band (which included Michael Fonfara on keys and Marty Fogel on sax) sound like they're having a fine time, and with free jazz legend Don Cherry sitting in, the band's frequent jams give this an exploratory feel that sets it apart from some of Reed's other live sets of the period.