Old And New Dreams: Playing (ECM 1205)

 

Old And New Dreams
Playing

Don Cherry trumpet, piano
Dewey Redman tenor saxophone, musette
Charlie Haden bass
Ed Blackwell drums
Recorded live, June 1980, Theater am Kornmarkt, Bregenz (Austria)
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher

This fantastic set, recorded live in Austria, is the place to start for anyone wanting a glimpse into the attic of Old And New Dreams. The playing is on point, the crowd riled, and the stakes high. From that first lively jump into “Happy House,” one of three extended Ornette Coleman tunes, we are plunged into the group’s quintessential sonic parameters. Lithe syncopations from Dewey Redman relate to Ed Blackwell’s drumming like family, while the free-flowing trumpeting of Don Cherry loosens its grip on predictability for a style that is utterly devoid of pretense and ever eager to communicate. Charlie Haden’s melodious plasticity completes a formula that carries through to the last drop. Just listen to the gut-wrenching tenor solo in “New Dream,” the liquid horns and percolating toms of “Broken Shadows,” where Redman’s musette also unfurls for a fantastically CODONA-like sound, and tell me there isn’t something special going on here.

Cherry drops a groovy hit of his own with the pointillist “Mopti,” of which the infectious pianism from the composer and attuned percussion delight. Redman contributes “Rushour,” the album’s most incendiary flush. The incredible saxophonism and expansive lyric trumpeting spread their joys far and wide. The title track comes from the hand of Haden, around whose spine horns weave like a medical caduceus before being lobbed back into their familiar station like ping-pong balls at the ready.

Considering the heft of talents assembled here, the results are weightlessly executed. This shows not weakness or lack of fortitude, but the maturity everyone brings to the sonic table. This is a solid date from musicians who know the business inside and out, and then some. About as good as it gets. Reissue, anyone?

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