The first time I heard guitarist Ed Cherry live, he was working with Dizzy Gillespie, one night in a 15 year period with the legendary trumpeter, and part of a career that’s had him also on record or on stage with Ruth Brown, Jimmy McGriff, Oliver Lake, Dakota Staton, Roy Hargrove, Steve Coleman and John Patton.
I remember another night where I found myself in a basement club of a hotel in Cape May, New Jersey, watching Ed Cherry making the walls sweat as much as he was, burning it up, leading an organ trio.
It’s this feel we find when taking in Cherry’s new cd, “Soul Tree”, a tight threesome with organist Kyle Koehler and drummer Anwar Marshall.
The soul’s not far from this tree, as right away we’re foot tappin’ along to a straight ahead version of Kool and the Gang’s “Let The Music Take Your Mind”, just one of the hard swinging highlights this fresh take trio has to offer.
Jimmy Heath’s “A New Blue” is a late night blue light driver, the guitarist’s soulful lines merging effortlessly with the Koehler’s organ chants and Marshall’s rhythms. What we get is a new hue on this encounter.
“Rachel’s Step”, a Cherry original, has a forward paying spirit, the leader’s guitar bringing all the sense memory of those early days listening to James Brown, Booker T and the MG’s and other hip R&B instrumentals of the day.
Mall Waldron’s “Soul Eyes” has an easy, bossa feel, the trio in no hurry to show off their synergy. Let the music show it, and it does. Cherry’s rhythms are a great palette for Koehler’s relaxed organ work. The leader’s lines a comfortable display of guitar mastery.
Freddie Hubbard’s “Little Sunflower” gets a kick up as the guitarist and his soul mates find new territory to explore. Damn! This is a tight trio! You’ll miss your exit if this one’s on in the whip.
There’s a moving thoughtful display on John Coltrane’s “Central Park West” and “Little Girl Big Girl”, a Cherry chart for the date.
“Ode To Angela”, by saxophonist Harold Land, finds new land in a relaxed expression, it’s Latin feel sure to make Angela and you feel just right with the world.
With Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way”, The guitarist leads the way, building this one with an infectious energy Brubeck would surely have dug, the leader’s lines finding a new soulful spirit in this classic.
The last branch is a gorgeous interpretation of Horace Silver’s “Peace”, something in this time we could all use more of.
The kid who at age 11 knew who Charlie Parker and Grant Green were, shows by his formidable new recording that we know who he is. Ed Cherry has made a recording he should be proud of, a recording we at WBGO are proud to share with you.
“Soul Tree” comes out February 19th from Posi-tone Records. He’ll celebrate the release at Smalls in NYC on March 30th.
Gary Walker / WBGO