Trumpeter Don Cherry, an Ornette Coleman soulmate and a world musician decades ago, became one of jazz’s many early losses 10 years back. But saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who joins him on this fizzing 1966 set, has since ascended to cult status, and he is still around to admire . In the 1960s, he knew no melodic fear at all, in which respect he was aptly partnered with Cherry. This is a quartet set, strongly influenced by the melodic approach of Coleman, but with a fierce abstraction of tone quite different from Coleman’s playful lyricism.
Moreover, the rhythm team of Ed Blackwell on drums and Henry Grimes on bass provides a scintillating underpinning for the music that is worth listening to all on its own. Sanders’ mix of Coltrane’s yearning long notes, Ayler’s ghostly, fluttering wail, Coleman’s fast, bumpy phrasing and his own manic bagpipe screams certainly separates the faint-hearted from the stayers on the opening Awake Nu. But the conversation between Sanders and Cherry is light, lyrical and engaging on The Thing, and the saxophonist even gets into a stubborn, Sonny Rollins-like repeating Latin vamp on There Is the Bomb. An unflinchingly quirky classic