Daughter of prolific musician Don Cherry, Neneh Cherry, has calibrated her own imprint into modern music with a lot of the same power, relevance and distinction her father gave music. The Slits, Rip, Rig and Panic, Float Up, P.C. and Buffalo are just a few of the projects she has been involved with over the last few decades and she has become one of the most diverse and dynamic vocalist in many different scenes. With a background that Don Cherry gave her growing up, it’s no shock that she has found her gifts and purpose through music.
Her latest project, Neneh Cherry & The Thing on Smalltown Supersound, finds a bridging with herself and some of the best free jazz players out right now. Swedish/Norweigan free jazz outfit The Thing (Mats Gustafsson, Ingebrigt Håker Flaten, and Paal Nilssen-Love) all met out of a mutual respect for the songbook of Don Cherry. Highly sophisticated, they bring a muscular weight to their craft that brings free jazz all the way into the 21st century. With most of their live performances dedicated to Don Cherry, it was only right that they were afforded an opportunity to get in a room with Cherry’s daughter and see where the night would take them. It was easy to believe that things clicked right away considering the vast, diverse and strong form of compositional ability every single person involved has a background in. With a musical partnership that began with Neneh Cherry and The Thing well before their new studio album The Cherry Thing, it’s a beautiful amalgamation of culture and style that has come together in this new studio project.
To pin down Neneh Cherry would be impossible, especially on The Cherry Thing. The very moment one of the tracks takes off into a journey of the past, Neneh breathes an ostentatious presence and spirit that could only come from the 21st century. Her vocal recitation of MF Doom’s “Accordion” from his Madvillian project comes off strikingly powerful as she adds her nuances and small vocal inflections that make it all her own. Rarely do you hear a remake of a song that does the original justice and Neneh couldn’t have paid better homage to one of the best mc’s, MF Doom. Mats Gustafsson has been making a name for himself over the years and is a premier saxophone player in so regions around the world where free music exists. Sonic Youth to Zu, his presence is ubiquitos and fierce yet highly textured, never landing into a position of stagnation. It feels like a tornado when he opens up on The Cherry Thing and his playing on this new record is just as mammoth and immense as anything he has ever released. His bandmates in The Thing push through the weight and energy coming from the sax work with a poise finesse that only the most advanced and skilled can reach. The Cherry Thing isn’t only aggressive and fired filled and presents passages of a very different world. At times, it becomes peaceful and mellow in lyrical and musical form with grace and contemplation as the main vehicle of response.
The Cherry Thing is tremendously contemplative and surreal. Vocal patterns and sax lines weave a trail of consciousness and a spiritual vestige every moment. Intensity breathes in cycles, not just solo space and the diversity in influence takes shape with covers of artists like MF Doom, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and The Stooges. Eight tracks of experimental jazz with the sharp pen of Neneh, The Cherry Thing will serve as one of the newest sounding voyages into the free jazz and post beat poet world.
Order this album from Smalltown Supersound HERE