Sarah Parker Remond Centre


Gabriel Bristow

Project: Don Cherry’s life and music

Don Cherry
Year of start: 2019
Supervisors: Prof Paul Gilroy (principal) and Dr Daniel Matlin, KCL (subsidiary)

PhD Research: My thesis looks at the life and music of Don Cherry (1936-1995), a multi-instrumentalist best known as a jazz trumpeter. Despite the singularity of his musical career, from the birth of free jazz to his ventures into “world music” avant la lettre, surprisingly little—scholarly or otherwise—has been written about him. In my research I chart his experiments with global folk musics in the 1960s and 1970s, situating his approach in relation to contemporaneous cultures of black transnationalism. As a trumpeter myself, I am particularly interested in understanding his playing in relation to the lineages of jazz trumpet and their rupturing and extension with free jazz. Finally, I hope to explore his later music as an instance of “popular modernism”, a resurgent term that has been the subject of slow burning interdisciplinary debates for decades (see Sollors, Gilroy, Mercer, Fisher, Brar & Rekret).

Research Interests:
Music, marxism, black radical tradition, cultural studies, critical theory, poetry, politics, francophone literature.

Avant Gutbucket Special, NTS, 2021
Once Upon A Time In Watts, The Wire, 2021
On Free Jazz Communism, Social Text, 2020
Don Cherry: an improvised film in black and white, Point of Departure, 2020 (French translation forthcoming in La Revue Documentaires)

Honours, Awards & Funding:
LAHP funded