Brown Rice

Don Cherry was everywhere in the world of modern jazz in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Free jazz enthusiasts know his work best through the early Ornette Coleman recordings, first in the quintet with pianist Paul Bley and later in the key-less quartet which recorded a series of six albums for Atlantic Records. With the same rhythm section of Charlie Haden and Ed Blackwell, Cherry recorded an album with John Coltrane as well.

On the Atlantic albums beginning with The Shape of Jazz to Come, Coleman performed on a plastic saxophone. This had originally been a compromise for the cash strapped artist, but he came to appreciate its dryer sound. Cherry performed here and in many of his recordings on the pocket trumpet, a smaller practice instrument which likewise had a slightly different sound.

In the 1970s Cherry explored Middle Eastern and traditional African music. He continued to work with Haden and Blackwell. His recorded results were more structured than the “harmolodic funk” Coleman was recording at the time with an early incarnation of his group Prime Time. Cherry’s album Brown Rice was first released in Italy in 1975 and was reissued in the United States by Horizon records (the edition seen in this photograph). The track you’re hearing is the title track from this album, on which Haden and Blackwell again join Cherry. He is playing his pocket trumpet as well as the electric keyboard. Cherry had played piano in Art Farmer’s band in his early career and often played parts on his own albums.

Rice, which is grown on every continent except Antartica, is a dietary staple for more than half the world’s population. In several cultures the word for “to eat” literally translates as “to eat rice.”¬†According to Ricepedia (“the online authority on rice”), rice is the fastest growing staple food in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, both of which import most of their rice.

Brown rice does not have the bran and germ removed, as with white rice. It is a good source of many nutrients, including: magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, and manganese. It is also high in fiber. A diet rich in such whole grains has been shown to prevent the development of type II diabetes, heart disease and several common cancers. Brown rice also appears to provide a partial antidote to America’s obesity epidemic — a Japanese study this year found that the food may cause an epigenetic restructuring of the brain which reduces our desire for fatty foods.

Brown rice is also very tasty.

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