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5 December 2010

Don Cherry - 'Blue Lake' (Get Back)

Here's another unearthed trio recording from '71, relissued on Get Back with nice thick vinyl and unreadably Japanese gatefold liner notes. This is the Dyani/Tamiz band we heard on Orient, recorded live and recorded well. After Cherry's title track (a bamboo forest of strange swampy delights), we embark into 'Dollar and Okay's Tunes', which Cherry introduces through a friendly, conversational spoken section. It sounds like we're getting some of Dollar's tunes first, though it's all a big medley -- at least I'm assuming Dollar Brand writes the more cyclical, melodic piano-driven tunes. It definitely veers into the 'Eagle Eye' territory we heard before, except the sound is much more huge - perhaps things are recorded better, or the band is better at multi-tasking. Regardless, it's a swirling ball of sound that sounds great - unified, cohesive and luxurious. Tamiz is a great percussionist who can ride the waves, driving things forward while still containing them. The melodic structures, resembling (in some ways) Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath with the repetitive, simple melodies and ebullience, are departure points. When Cherry pulls out the trumpet, suddenly we're skirted away into uncharted Oriental depths. But it shifts a bit; over the 1.5 sides of this suite, we're taken through worlds of childlike simplicity and then thrust into staggering dynamic complexities. There's a nice interaction between Dyani's bass and Cherry on vocals and I think xylophone near the end of side two, and it sputters into a bit of vocal babbling (or maybe its perfectly lucid and I just don't understand the language) -- which has soft, rubberised edges and is extremely welcoming, even though the music stops and Cherry thanks the interior designer of the venue. It's a bit of a strange ending, but all muscles are relaxed by this point. Platter two is one long piece, 'East', which begins with a bouncy groove and some sinister bass played, using deep bow strokes and occasional fiber scratches. Cherry is again on piano for most of this and by this point I've started to really feel his doubletracked vocal/ivory stylings. While 'East' at first suggests a more avant-free exploration, it doesn't take long til we've fallen back into the same song-based stuff heard on the first record, and indeed on the last one as well. But it's not a comfort zone, it's a truly passionate musical communication. The band really gets cooking around one of those chanted four-note melodies that Cherry's fond of; it sounds strangely familiar, like maybe something from Mu or Orient, but it's always evolving so much that it's hard to say. Maybe I'm feeling Cherry's eternal rhythm, or maybe it's just somnambulant melodies.

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