Organic Music classic back on wax! Taking elements of Indian drone, African rhythms, and rock, 1975’s Brown Rice is an eclectic jazz fusion journey across four tracks. Trumpeter Don Cherry might be best known for his association with Ornette Coleman, but Cherry’s work here is a stark contrast from his playing on Ornette classics like The Shape of Jazz To Come. At moments its brutish and disorderly; at others, it has a childlike sense of ease and minimalism. Cherry was hanging with Terry Riley in Köln around the time of the recording sessions, and that influence certainly bleeds through the opening keyboard motif on the titular track. “Black Rice” quickly evolves out of this minimalism into a funky electric bongo jam, complete with Cherry’s hypnotic chants. On “Malkauns,” two sections of bass improvisation and a haunting Tanpura drone sandwich the clash of Cherry’s frantic squeals and Billy Higgins’ explosive drumming. Moments like these, where it feels like the entire song is about to collapse on itself before reaching a gentle resolution, are where Brown Rice truly shines.
reviewed by SHH! 05/2021