Aug 9, 2017
Seventy-five years ago today, one of the great drummers and percussionists of the modern jazz era was born in Chicago, Illinois. Jack DeJohnette has gone on to play with most of the important jazz musicians who lean toward the genres of the avant-garde and fusion, syncopating the wildest electric music and most controlled acoustic sounds of our time.
DeJohnette cut his teeth in the Chicago Avant-Garde, playing with musicians who would form the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (Roscoe Mitchell, Richard Abrams) and Sun Ra. He moved to New York in 1965, and became a member of the genre-defying Charles Lloyd Quartet that included pianist Keith Jarrett. After stints with Bill Evans and Stan Getz, DeJohnette was tapped by Miles Davis to replace Tony Williams in Davis’ forays into electric music.
t’s DeJohnette as the primary drummer on the classic Bitches’ Brew, as well as on the incendiary live albums recorded at the Fillmore East and West. Any of the controversial Davis recordings from 1969 to 1971 – and there are many – showcase the importance of DeJohnette as the anchor of an often unstructured and even undisciplined sound that revolutionized jazz.
DeJohnette left Davis and began a series of projects that often featured him as leader. His most memorable recordings were on the ECM label, and those bands – the Gateway Trio with John Abercrombie and Dave Holland; the quartets Directions and New Directions; and especially Special Edition with the first major recordings of David Murray, Arthur Blythe, and Chico Freeman – are all the stuff of jazz legend.
No less impressive was his reunion with Keith Jarrett, as the core of Jarrett’s Standards Trio with Gary Peacock, a chair he still occupies after some twenty recordings (The Complete Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note is required listening). His work on Pat Metheny’s 80-81 allowed the guitarist to move to the next level in exploring his sound. He remains a major force to this day, most recently as a crucial member of the super-group Hudson with John Scofield, Larry Grenadier and John Medeski.
Perhaps my favorite DeJohnette album is Parallel Realities, a joyful album from 1990 with Pat Metheny and Herbie Hancock. The live album Parallel Realities Live added Dave Holland to the mix, and the quartet memorably reaches into the Hancock and Metheny repertoire.
So happy birthday Jack and here is a little over an hour of music from the many sessions he has recorded, both as leader and sideman. Musical selections include:
Special Edition – Title Track from Tin Can Alley
Jack DeJohnette - “Nine Over Reggae” from Parallel Realities
Miles Davis – “Double Image” from The Complete Bitches’ Brew
Jack DeJohnette – “Museum of Time from Made in Chicago
Joe Henderson – “Isotope” from Power to the People
Jack DeJohnette, John Patitucci & Danilo Perez –“Ode to MJQ” from Music We Are
Keith Jarrett – “It Never Entered My Mind” from Standards, Vol. 1
Trio Beyond – “Emergency” from Saudades