David Ornette Cherry died this week following an asthma attack after a London performance. The news felt more than sad.
Yes, he was only 64. Yes, his talent as a musical seeker, creator & improviser always left us suspecting the ultimate was yet to come, & now it never will. Yes, we'd reviewed one of his shows just a couple of months ago, & he was robust. But it's almost as if the last of a species has become extinct.
Being in the presence of David Ornette Cherry (son of Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman's original right-hand man) was like interacting w/ a man from another galaxy. Those of us from other galaxies understand that although such communications are not uncommon, the degree of difficulty varies greatly.
The farther away the galaxy, the harder the communication -- but, conversely, the more potentially valuable is the alien's contribution, because of his greater perspective. From "DOC" one sensed, whether listening to him speak or hearing him play one of his many instruments, that he was always homing in on the frequency that would enable him to connect. Since his roots spread everywhere & his heart pumped love, there was no way he was not going to succeed. Each listener has a receptive range, & an audience can quickly develop a common range as well. Moving, moving, "DOC" was always moving toward you.
The restless motion could make him seem scattered, but pull your camera back & you could see/hear the connections. At his last show at the World Stage, he had all his musicians synopsize their life stories. Their stories & their music united, & their stories became your stories.
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David Ornette Cherry's moody/wondrous "Ear Between the Lines" (2022) is available widely.
Listen to David Ornette Cherry's groove/electronic "Organic Nation Listening Club" (2021) here.
Read Bob Hicks' obituary in Oregon Artswatch here.
Read MetalJazz's review of DOC's September World Stage performance here.