Album of the Week: Bitter Funeral Beer Band with Don Cherry

Don’t tell anyone, but I follow Don Cherry wherever he goes. I’m like the paparazzi of his records and there are so many great records bearing his name as leader and side man. Just take a look! Some of my favorites, beyond the obvious, are the lessor known works like his live Köln show from 1975 with Terry Riley (yea, let that sink in). Thanks to Black Sweat Records, I’ve added another gem to my Cherry treasure chest.

Sometimes, most times, the label’s words are worth repeating:

Deeply influenced by Hindustani, Carnatic and West Africa music, he [Bengt Berger] founded in 1980 the Bitter Funeral Beer Band, an ensemble of 12 elements, basing his ideas on the traditional funeral music of the people of Lo-Birifor, in the northern region of Ghana. The sound material reinterprets the spirit of the funeral ritual, when the dance and its songs become a moment of catharsis, releasing a sense of joy in the trance for the liberation from pain. The marriage between this Afro polyrhythmic roots, with the spiritual jazz of the eternal Don Cherry and the indian sarod of K. Sridhar, it is in the direction to a pan-internationalism of profound spirituality, which blends different geographical traditions in a single contemplative gaze.

While I impatiently wait for the LP to arrive, Tidal called and said I’m wearing out the bits for the streaming version. I can really get lost in meditative intensity with a deep, oh-so-deep, repetitive trance-inducing groove and Bitter Funeral Beer Band with Don Cherry – Live In Frankfurt ’82 is one long groove.


These days, if you dare peek outside the comfort of nearsightedness, you’ll need some medicine to sooth your soul. Get yourself this lovin’ spoonful.

Have a taste: