After he left Ornette Coleman's quartet, trumpeter Don Cherry worked with a variety of collaborators and traveled more widely. He met Leandro "Gato" Barbieri in Italy years before the Argentinian saxophonist became a superstar; back then he was still heavily influenced by Albert Ayler. Cherry and Barbieri quickly bonded and began working together, with Cherry's Blue Note album Complete Communion, recorded with Barbieri (using a different rhythm section) on Christmas Eve of 1965, their first studio collaboration. They worked together in Europe so often that they had a regular quintet with German vibraphonist Karl Berger, French bassist Jean Francois Jenny Clark, and Italian drummer Aldo Romano. Clark, however, could not make the band's month-long residency at Copenhagen's most famous jazz club, so young American bassist Cameron Brown was called to replace him -- but he's not the bassist here. These performances were recorded for radio broadcast, and Danish radio rules said at least one native had to be in the band. Thus Bo Steif slid into the group for these recordings -- and stayed after Brown's musical commitments took him elsewhere.
All three volumes of ESP-Disk's series of concert recordings from this group's 1966 feature performances of Cherry's suite Complete Communion from the album of the same name, none more thoroughly than this one (actually the first concert by this group), because "Remembrance" is actually the closing movement of the suite on the Blue Note album. Thematically, they range much more widely than the studio recording, making this volume an especially interesting insight into Cherry's approach.
Don Cherry: trumpet
Gato Barbieri: tenor saxophone
Karl Berger: vibraphone
Bo Steif: bass
Aldo Romano: drums
Recorded on March 3rd, 1966. Digital remastering: Douglas McGregor. Production Manager: Tom Abbs. Photos: Jan Persson and Jacky LePage. Original design concept: Paul Costuros. Design & Layout: Miles Bachman & Fumi Tomita.
"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.... 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.... 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." – Michael G. Nastos, All Music Guide