Trumpet player Don Cherry, who was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in the Watts district of Los Angeles, is an admirer of the early cornet work of Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke, and in the 1960s he played an important role in the free jazz groups of Ornette Coleman. Yet in the last decade or so, Cherry has become a leader in his own right, shepherding a new pan-cultural school of jazz that he and others call "world music."
Cherry has immersed himself in the music of India, Africa, China, Tibet and other cultures and has learned to play bamboo flutes, bowed calabashes, the hunter's guitar of Mali and other exotic instruments, in addition to his specialty, the pocket trumpet. He has toured Europe with an international group and recently did a string of concerts in France with musicians from Cameroun. The trio Codona, at Blues Alley tomorrow night, will feature Cherry on various instruments; the sitar and finger piano of Collin Walcott, a former pupil of Ravi Shankar; and the Brazilian Nana Vasconcelos, whose myriad approaches to rhythm include body percussion.
Cherry is excited about the "acousticness" of Codona's instrumentation. "This wave and that wave, I feel now it's an all-wave music that's happening. The naturalness of music is what I want to be involved in," he says. "It's like the instruments are playing us and they're working with overtones and the idea is the swing of it. We're really creating a nice new boogie."