Collin Walcott/Don Cherry/Nana Vasconcelos – Codona

Released in 1979 on ECM Records

Recorded September, 1978

Codona is a collaborative project of raga-inflected improvisations between Collin Walcott, who’s studied sitar under Ravi Shankar and tabla under Alla Rakha, trumpeter/flutist Don Cherry, who’s studied music all around the world since his days with Ornette Coleman, and Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos.

Track Notes:

A1 – “Like That of Sky” – 11:06

A resonating gong opens the album, followed shortly by the sparse stop-and-start playing of flute, sitar and clicking percussion. Low throat singing from all 3 musicians begins to swell under the surface, but the song remains somewhat amorphous, with the musicians playing sequentially instead of simultaneously. Eventually a slow drive of percussion and sitar begins to develop, while Cherry goes back and forth between flute and trumpet for different melodic passages. His melodies are often echoed and interacting with the Sitar melodies. This track is simultaneously meditative and exploratory, with a sense of unknown danger lurking beneath the quiet. Walcott eventually switches to some driving tabla rhythms, leaving the yearning flute to float over the dense webs of percussion.

A2 – “Codona” – 6:12

Fluttering flute, sparse dulcimer, and hand percussion all play in the spaces between each other, leaving much room to breathe. The hammered dulcimer and hand percussion eventually settle into a hypnotic rhythm, while the airy flute continues to float on overhead. Slowly the hammered dulcimer evolves into some joyful arrpegiations.

A3 – “Colemanwonder” – 3:40

The jazziest track on the album is a short medley of two Ornette Coleman compositions, as well as one from Stevie Wonder. It mostly consists of Don Cherry exploring the melodies on trumpet while Walcott and Vasconcelos interact with him. It sounds really cool when the sitar and trumpet play in unison.

B1 – “Mumakata”  – 8:15

This track is mostly percussive, with Africa-inspired vocal chanting. The intro is mostly based around the sanza (aka kalimba or thumb piano). Cherry plays the trumpet beautifully on this one. Slowly builds in energy while an unidentified bassy instrument plays underneath.

B2 – “New Light” – 13:23

Watery raga sitar accompanied by bells and chimes. Windy sounds in the background. After a peaceful sitar solo, trumpet begins echoing the sitar melodies, eventually this develop into a cohesive riff and rhythm that they play together. Sitar gets more active, uplifting and busy soloing. The three musicians interact so well together. Walcott switches to hammered dulcimer arrpegiations.

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