Swing, Blues, Conviction, and Truth with Ed Cherry

By Nick Hempton

If you like your jazz groovy and soulful, then Ed Cherry’s your man. A world-renowned ace of the electric guitar, Ed always knocks us out when he takes to the Django stage, with his blues-soaked style and tough-yet-tender sound. Ed honed his skills over a long career working with some of the greatest, racking up 15 years on the road with the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, and being featured on classic record dates with jazz-organ giants, Big John Patton and Dr. Lonnie Smith. It’s in the setting of an organ band that we’ll hear him perform on March 12th and March 26th. And as always, it promises to be greasy, grooving, and “irrepressibly swinging…” (Downbeat Magazine)Ed spoke to us about swing, blues, conviction, and truth, his guitar heroes, lessons from the road, and his upcoming Django shows with fellow jazz musician Nick Hempton. 


NH: Hey Ed, we’re excited to have you back at the Django on March 12. What can we expect from the show?


EC: You can expect swing and blues played with conviction and truth.

NH: You often work in the organ trio format, and you’ve played with some of the biggest names in jazz organ. Why does that sound connect so immediately with audiences?

EC: It’s a thing that comes from the Black church and has been used in jazz from as far back as the great Fats Waller, and refined in the early 50s by Jimmy Smith; a sound that goes right into your soul and makes you tap your foot or dance, as folks did when I was coming up. My first jazz gigs were in a black-owned club in New Haven called The Monterey. People would immediately get up and dance to a medium tempo blues…dance and shout… I remember it like it was yesterday. I try to keep those sights and sounds in my mind every time I get onstage with an organ in the band, make the people dance and shout.

NH: As a young musician, who were your guitar heroes?

EC: I loved BB King, Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix, Steve Cropper from Booker T and the MGs… Anyone I heard on the radio who I thought was good, I would learn something from it.

NH: You spent years on the road with Dizzy Gillespie. What did you take away from that experience?

EC: I learned a lot from Dizzy about being gracious, and dedicated to your art; about being a fair and honest bandleader. He was a spiritual guy, dedicated to the Bahá’í faith; his spirituality led me to investigate different religions, and reinforced my belief in a higher power.NH: If you could eat or drink anything you wanted after a show, what would it be?

EC: Hahaha without consequences? Fish and grits, or ribs and potato salad, upside-down pineapple cake, baby! But in the real world, I can’t eat like that late at night anymore. It would have to be a lot more boring and less caloric, if I eat anything at all…


Ed Cherry will be performing at the Django on Saturday, March 12th, from 7PM-9:30PM, with Pat Bianchi on Organ and Jason Tiemann on Drums. And also on Saturday, March 26th, from 7PM-9:30PM, with Pat Bianchi on Organ and Curtis Nowosad on Drums. Make your reservation now before tables sell out. Click HERE.


Check out his latest album “Soul Tree” on Posi-tone Records below—