by S. Victor Aaron
Ed Cherry is a veteran jazz guitarist with a bagful of bonafides. He was a student at Berklee in ’72, toured with Jimmy McGriff and Tim Hardin (among other jazz luminaries) and played in Dizzy Gillespie’s band for the last fifteen years of the iconic trumpeter’s life. Along the way, Cherry’s worked with a wide range of heavies, from Henry Threadgill and Oliver Lake to John Patton and Steve Coleman. His indispensability as a sideman may have curtailed his solo output, but Soul Tree (February 12, 2016, Posi-Tone Records) is his second for Posi-Tone four years after It’s All Good, his first for the label (and fifth overall).
This one’s another organ trio setup like Good but it’s got Kyle Koehler on the Hammond B3 and Anwar Marshall on drums, and these guys aren’t slouches. Cherry himself is firmly in the old school of soul-jazz guitarists and his precise, understated style is smoky, cool and sweet. Kenny Burrell is the guy I think most of when I hear Cherry play.
The fare for Soul Tree covers the gambit from Kool & The Gang’s “Let The Music Take Your Mind,” where jazz and RnB hand in hand, to the soulful swing put into Horace Silver’s “Peace.” In-between, Cherry and his own gang take on tunes that offer a different angle than the originals. A 2/4 swing caresses John Coltrane’s “Central Park West,” while Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes” is made into a mellow bossa nova with a heaping helping of octaves.
The trio simmers on “A New Blue” a blues-based tune from Jimmy Heath tune and Cherry delivers tasty, relaxed single line notes. He’s got only two of his own songs here, enough to show he’s a serious composer in his own right. For the dynamic boogaloo “Rachel’s Step” Cherry gets funky, and Koehler puts in work on the organ like Dr. Lonnie Smith. “Little Girl Big Girl” has a fetching, soulful melody and Cherry shows off nice rhythm chops.
Soul Tree is that kind of fundamentally solid, guitar/organ/drums record that you’d expect from a seasoned hand like Ed Cherry. You won’t go wrong here.
1. Let The Music Take Your Mind
2. A New Blue
3. Rachel s Step
4. Soul Eyes
5. Little Sunflower
6. Central Park West
7. Little Girl Big Girl
8. Ode To Angela
9. In Your Own Sweet Way
Drums – Anwar Marshall
Organ – Kyle Koehler
Guitar – Ed Cherry
Recorded September 28, 2015 at Acoustic Recording, Brooklyn, NY