barabara sounds sez:
Wow, did/does this album ever polarize the self-styled critics...
Dusty terms it important and righteous; Julian Cope is conflicted; CD Universe says it's average, respectable and inoffensive; and AMG hyperventilates, damning it as bombastic cock-rock, lumbering, leaden, warbling, a truly gross example of shtick, a faddish veneer of exotic mysticism — and then compares it to Spinal Tap for good measure! (I've posted the best bits below for a laugh)
As for me... I like it. Clearly it's no classic; and definitely it's dated. But it's worth a few spins for sure. Let me know what you make of it...
Important 70s work from Don Cherry – one of the first albums to bring his overseas experiments to a larger US audience! The set builds nicely off of styles that Don forged earlier in France and Scandinavia – a freer style of music than his work with Ornette Coleman, and a richly organic groove that builds up strongly from the bottom, often with elements of world music settled in alongside the jazz – but there's also some funkier moments here too, a bit like the Brown Rice album, but looser overall!
The groups on most numbers are relatively large and spiritual – almost like Alice Coltrane at times, but a bit more electric and funky at others… Narada Michael Walden produced, and the whole set's got a very righteous feel...
julian cope's head heritage (aether) sez:
The indecision and lack of confidence affecting Cherry at the time is totally understandable; unfortunately, it also permeates most of this LP - his one real stab at major label acceptance.
That said, a Don Cherry LP bowing to commercial acceptability is a damn sight better than many other artists of the time reaching for similar acceptance, and there are moments of high-brilliance amongst the clotted, over-sentimentalized, clinical pap.
Hear and Now's cover depicts a smiling Cherry posing like Buddha, and holding a trumpet with a bent mouthpiece — an indication of some meditative sounds, but it's really a mishmash of styles with a leaning toward African rhythms... An average collection from Cherry, respectable and inoffensive.
AMG (Chris May) sez:
That multi-instrumentalist and world jazz pioneer Don Cherry was able to adopt such a beatific countenance for the cover shot of Hear And Now says much for the power of yoga, given the horrors that follow. The disc has now been reissued as part of Warner Jazz's Atlantic Masters series. But non-yogis should heed this warning: if you only acquire one Don Cherry album in your life, don't acquire this one.
Recorded in December 1976, Hear And Now was produced by drummer/keyboardist Narada Michael Walden, whose crimes against music—particularly at the height of the 1970s fusion era—are of a scale similar to those of pianist Bob James. The album is a truly gross example of Walden's schtick: bombastic cock-rock lead guitars, lumbering bass ostinatos, leaden drums, warbling background vocals, a faddish veneer of exotic mysticism and a sub-Wagnerian taste for dramatic shifts in dynamics. Walden himself is only heard on two tracks, but unfortunately one of them, the opening "Mahakali," features him on tympani.
If Spinal Tap had been a jazz-funk band, and if it had recorded the jazz odyssey talked about in the movie, this is what it would have sounded like.
[and so it goes on...]
Mahakali; Universal Mother; Karmapa Chenno; California; Buddha's Blues; Eagle Eye; Surrender Rose; Journey Of Milarepa / Shanti / The Ending Movement--Liberation.
Don Cherry: trumpet, flute, vocal; Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone (1); Stan Samole: guitar (1-5, 7, 8); Ronald Dean Miller: guitar (1, 3); Cliff Carter: keyboards (1-5, 7, 8); Narada Michael Walden: keyboards (7), tympani (1); Colin Walcott: sitar (1); Lois Colin: harp (2, 7); Moki: tamboura (1); Marcus Miller: bass (1, 3); Neil Jason: bass (2, 4, 5, 7, 8); Lenny White: drums (1, 3); Tony Williams: drums (4, 5); Steve Jordan: drums (7, 8); Raphael Cruz: percussion; Sammy Figuero: congas (2-6, 8); Cheryl Alexander: vocals (2); Phoenix Volaitis: vocals (7); Patty Scialfa: vocals (7).