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Art Deco 07:21
Birdboy 10:01
First Love 03:27


NU was a moniker that Don Cherry employed as the title of the cooperative group that he initiated with Edward Blackwell, Carlos Ware, Nana Vasconcelos and myself in the mid 80's. It actually means “now” in Swedish which is where he created a second home with his wife Moki who was Swedish.
The word “now” is probably the most appropriate description of where Don resided; very much an improviser in the now. In this group, everyone functioned in the now and we moved through and into the music dependent on what everyone decided to do; aural cues were often the currency of the moment. It was a great band with the hydra-like percussion section of Blackwell and Nana. They played so well together and created what often sounded like a true drum ensemble with many more than two members. Carlos Ward, with whom I worked in Edward Blackwell’s group, is an important composer as well as a wonderful improviser. His pieces formed the backbone of this group. Don was the leader on stage just by the nature of his presence and playful nature; we would often take musical cues from him while making sudden turns into songs that were sometimes unfamiliar to some of us, but we played them anyway. Additionally, he and Nana did a lot of vocalizing in this band which lent the music a more immediate humanity. We also had a lot of fun traveling, hanging out and dealing with the vagaries of the road.
This particular recording was made live in Glasgow, Scotland on October 24th 1987. The performance took place at the Henry Wood Hall and it was part of a tour comprising twelve concerts sponsored by the British Arts Council. In my computer files I found a digitized stereo file of the concert which was probably made from an analog board recording. The beginning of Art Deco is cutoff so the first music we hear is the second chorus of the head. The technicians were probably getting audio levels and missed the beginning of the concert. At the end of this recording while Lito is being played under Don’s announcement of the musicians, the music also suddenly cut off for which I can offer no explanation. I left these incompletions as they are thankful for the amount of music recovered from this wonderful concert. NU functioned as a true musical cooperative with everyone offering pieces for the repertoire and everyone stepping out and shining at various points. One of my favorite moments on this recording is Blackwell’s drum solo on Carlos’ piece, Pettiford Bridge. The kaleidoscopic metrical multiples are a joy to listen to as they poetically paint over the fixed bass line.
Personally, playing in NU with these gentlemen was an unmitigated joy for me.

Mark Helias, 2021


released February 5, 2021

1. Art Deco (Don Cherry) 7:21
2. Pettiford Bridge (Carlos Ward)
3. Dousson Gouni/Bird Boy (Don Cherry, Nana Vasconcelos 10:01
4. First Love (Carlos Ward) 3:27
5. Pitchfield Blues (Mark Helias) 6:47
6. Nana solo/Don Tune2/Lito (Don cherry)(Carlos Ward)

Live performance recorded in Glasgow Scotland October 24, 1987
Post Production and Mastering – Mark Helias at Chateau Beyond

Tracks 2,4 and 6 by Carlos Ward (Lito Publishing Company BMI)
. Tracks 1 and 3 and 6 by Don Cherry (Eternal River Publishing BMI)
. Track 5 by Mark Helias (Radio Legs Music BMI, GEMA)

Don Cherry – trumpet, dousson gouni, voice
Edward Blackwell – drums, percussion
Nana Vasconcelos – birembau, percussion, voice
Carlos Ward – alto saxophone, flute
Mark Helias – double bass

Cover photo and design – Mark Helias
Album Notes – Mark Helias


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Mark Helias New York, New York

Mark Helias is a renowned bassist, composer and producer who has performed throughout the world for more than four decades with some of the most important and innovative musicians in Jazz and Improvised Music including Don Cherry, Edward Blackwell, Anthony Davis, Dewey Redman, Anthony Braxton, Abbey Lincoln, Cecil Taylor, and Uri Caine.
Sixteen albums of his music have been released since 1984.
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