In 1970 Don Cherry taught at Dartmouth, and in 1995 he died. Ten years later, in 2005 — though thats now 16 years ago- I interviewed about a dozen of his former students there, plus was given access to a file compiled by Jon Appleton, a music teacher there who claimed responsibility for the residency. Either in my article for the alumni magazine or a longer manuscript I self-published here at Plastic Alto, I mentioned that Don apparently borrowed a flute from the college’s ethnographic collection, but there is no record of his having returned it. There’s a note where he apologies for taking the flute with him to Europe, saying “this flute needs to be heard”.
Delbert Anderson heard that story and wrote a song about it, “I Still Got It”. It’s a funky party number and only loosely references the case. It name-checks Thelonius Monk not Don or Ornette. But it seems that the first world brothers or sisters find it pretty funny, if brother Don was ghosting the Ivy League school (i.e the nations 9th oldest, that started to “civilize the pagans” and has a $8.5B endowment).
There’s actually a whole new suite of music that re-constitutes Don Cherry emphasizing his Chocktaw heritage rather than his Black side. It features Delbert, who I met online at Folk Alliance in February, and Mali Obomsawin, an indigenous woman from Vermont, who is a Dartmouth alumna.
Delbert will be in SF Monday, maybe sitting it with Snot Nose Rez Kids at Bottom of the Hill, maybe at some hoot or open night. They are driving from Gallup, NM to Kern County for a hit then onward to Frisco just as tourists, and a few meetings. (There was a Sac show that showed little sack, as we used to say, in Hanover, when we were the balls).
Delbert Anderson group is in residence at Sonoma State the following week. And he is invited at least virtually to be part of FONT, festival of new trumpet. There is a rumor that producer Chris Seefried who worked with Trombone Shorty wants to help Delbert reach a wider audience. My Don Cherry mentors are Peter Apfelbaum and Steve Bernstein, plus Steve Herzfeld and Fred Haas. Taylor Ho Bynum says he assigns my essay to his students. I may have seen Don just once at The Up and Down Club compilation cd release party, by Prawn Song, well before I knew I was going to be a concert promoter and certainly before I took an interest, via Charlie Hunter, also on Prawn Song, in jazz. In a completely unrelated development, I am doing an Earthwise residency with Caroline Davis (sax) at The Mitch, January 27, 28, 29, plus doing shows with Amendola-Goldberg-Sickafoose (Plays Monk), and Amendola Vs Blades. I did 10 jazz shows this summer, or so.
I will report further on Delbert and Don.
This music reminds me of Boots Riley, Purple Pam, The Coup and “Sorry to Bother You”.
It sort of reminds me that the last assignment I had in advertising was from Young & Rubican or Foote Cone and Belding to come in for $200 and write ads for Chevron, “now with 25 percent more Techroline, it turns your engine into a washing machine” and I told them to go fuck themselves — US had invaded Iraq and people my age were in the streets outside my window yelling “NO BLOOD FOR OIL! – -and instead I took a foxy Black lady named Gabrielle Brown ’85 to Stinson Beach, then gave up my apartment, moved home to my parents’ house and a few months later became this, which I’ve stuck with 27 years. I noticed a sign at the pump “25th Anniversary of Techron”. (Fact-checking my own memoir I learn that a couple years after that came the claymation cars in their ads, to introduce the same product or concept – cleans your engine — and I was just talking about my old friend the dj on KFOG Renee Richardson who voiced one of those little cars – -don’t blame her. I knew her when she had a pierced tongue, was Renee Rotten on Live 105 and Hibernia Beach late nights — good gal).
*I call the Delbert Anderson track source for this screed “I Still Got It” although the file is labeled “Taos Flute (rough mix)”.