2009 CD release.
This third and final recording of the 1966 Don Cherry Quintet recorded at the Cafe Montmartre in Copenhagen, Denmark, is conclusive in many ways. On the two 20-plus-minute professed "suites" heard here, the bandmembers bring their collective sound together with every passing phrase. They seem to have a telepathy and single-minded sense of purpose that borders on alchemy.
Historically, American-born Cherry is fronting an international group, perhaps the first of its kind, with German vibist Karl Berger, Italian drummer Aldo Romano, Danish bassist Bo Stief, and a young bold and fiery tenor saxophonist from Argentina, Gato Barbieri. Cherry has a bond with Barbieri that goes beyond symmetry or unity -- it's absolutely primal, unified and whole beyond imagination. The rhythm team, skilled and very familiar with how they play together, change themes and pacings at will -- an electrifying and dynamic duo. Berger's forceful, tuneful vibraphone playing has an orchestral quality, placed comfortably in the middle of this tornado of creative music, and knows just how to shade, accent, and push the harmonic content of this band ever onward.
The best thing about these musicians is that they do not have to calculate, plot, or scheme to create this exciting music -- they just go! "Complete Communion" offers multiple themes, mostly in the hard bop realm, generally very fast but sometimes slowed in bluesy and soulful moods, in the main hypertensive, or at times even patient. Barbieri's tenor solos wail, or are corralled in singing unity with Cherry's approximate notation. During this piece, which was to become their magnum opus, they quote the melody from Antonio Carlos Jobim's "How Insensitive." A completely free intro thematically fires up the jumping melody to "Remembrance," starting as a bluesy bop swinger buoyed by Berger's shimmering and quick chords as Barbieri and Cherry convene on several shout choruses drenched in harmony far beyond the pale.
The band startlingly changes colors and pace at will, the drama factor is high, and a rock & roll insert a bit staggering. The band wittily reprises Ray Brown's "Two Bass Hit," and Romano's drum solo is as tasty as his ensemble work. Clearly one of the great -- if not the greatest -- early creative post-bop bands of all time, it's wonderful to have three full volumes of this combo at the peak of its powers, recorded and reproduced very well so the balance of all instruments is sharply defined. If you are a fan of any of the participants, these are must-have issues that will last a lifetime.
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