Don Cherry: Brown Rice (A & M Records, 1975)
Listening to Don Cherry’s Brown Rice is to experience a sense of aural transcendence and a vision of complete commitment by an artist to his music.
Though Cherry made many fine albums under his own name, Brown Rice is special, standing out as one of the under-appreciated achievements of his wonderful career.
Recorded in 1975 at Basement Recording Studios in New York, and featuring bassist Charlie Haden, saxophonist Frank Lowe and drummer Billy Higgins, Brown Rice is a spiritual journey through a different sort of jazz fusion.
Like Cherry’s nomadic spirit, the sounds on this record belong to no country, to no region in particular — but rather to all the elements and peoples on earth. There are elements of free jazz, Indian classical music, West-African sounds, Himalayan chants, European classical music and the synthesized electronic fusion of the mid ’70s.
Cherry’s trumpet produces cool, nocturnal sounds and scalar melodies that flow from his diverse musical experiences, garnered from traveling the world. Combine this with Higgins’ and Haden’s polyrhythmic contributions on drums and bass, and the sound becomes something from — and that carries the listener to — another world.
At times quiet and sensitive, at others dissonant and raging — Brown Rice is a sonic experience that’s as dynamic as the man who created it.
-Matt Fleeger, KMHD Program Director