Book Review: Blank Forms #06 – Organic Music Societies

Organic Music Societies (Blank Forms 06) is a special issue released in conjunction with an exhibition of the work of Don and Moki Cherry. Don, a free jazz player and Moki, a textile artist met in Sweden in the late sixties. The book describes a close collaboration between the two artists and the work that can be achieved in such a relationship between creative people. The couple met when Don was touring Sweden with the jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins.

Edited by Lawrence Kumpf with Niama Karlsson and Magnus Nygren, the book includes a range of pieces from many authors including Moki and Don Cherry. There are tributes from daughter Neneh Cherry and Granddaughter Naima Karlsson.

The book contains over 200 colour, and black and white images which show Moki’s work produced in celebration of Don’s Music. She produced tickets, posters, and stage backdrops giving a visual representation of the music.

They also worked together to educate children (not just their own but others) in a way to help them develop self growth. Don believed that traditional education stifled natural abilities and got rid of their inbuilt creativity. It struck me how this is very different from our National Curriculum! They described a child’s creativity as a natural form of imagination.

Moki describes using her skills to create a home, a home that they also took on the road whilst on tour. The wall hangings they used on stage were also used in the hotel rooms to continue that dynamic inspiration. The excerpts from her diaries tell us more about this process and when looked at with her art lead us to a greater understanding.

The book contains series of essays and diary entries that discuss the family and their creative process. It is the first time that all of this work has been brought together in one volume. The gift continues in the work of Neneh and Eagle Eye Cherry. Being part of such an environment is something most of us could only wish for.

Organic Music Societies will be published by Blank Forms on April 27th. Pre-order your copy here. Re-releases of Don Cherry’s LP The Summer House Sessions and live album Organic Music Theatre are scheduled for the summer.

Review by Carolyn Batcheler

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