Monday, November 30, 2009
This Friday @ 7PM: Jack DeJohnette
Born in Chicago in 1942, Jack DeJohnette is widely regarded as one of jazz music's greatest drummers. He began studying classical piano at the age four, continuing until he was fourteen before starting to play drums with his high school concert band.
In his early years on the Chicago scene, he led his own groups and was equally in demand as a pianist and as a drummer. He played R & B, hard bop, and avant-garde and was active with the experimentalists of the AACM in its early days, with the likes of founder Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, and Joseph Jarman. In 1966, he drummed alongside Rashied Ali in the John Coltrane Quintet.
International recognition came with his tenure in the Charles Lloyd Quartet, one of the first jazz groups to receive cross-over attention, also alerting the world to Keith Jarrett's skills. Jack DeJohnette has collaborated with most of the major figures in jazz history including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Sun Ra, Jackie McLean, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Ron Carter, Lee Morgan, Charles Lloyd, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter and Eddie Harris, who is responsible for convincing DeJohnette to stick with drums because he heard DeJohnette's natural talent.
It was in 1968 that DeJohnette joined Miles Davis's group in time for the epochal upheaval marked by Bitches Brew, an album that changed the direction of jazz. In his autobiography, Miles Davis said, "Jack DeJohnette gave me a deep groove that I just loved to play over."
Miles also brought about collaborations with John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and Dave Holland. In 1968 he recorded his first album as a leader on the Milestone label, called The DeJohnette Complex, where Jack played melodica along with his mentor Roy Haynes on drums.
Jack began to record as a leader for ECM, with each of his successive groups Directions, New Directions, and Special Edition making important contributions to the evolution of jazz. The New Directions band featured two musicians who would have long-term associations with DeJohnette: John Abercrombie and Lester Bowie. A friend from his Chicago days, Bowie played intermittently with DeJohnette until the end of his life. Most notably, Lester and Jack collaborated on a duo album called Zebra, which was a world beat influenced video soundtrack and CD.
While continuing to lead his own projects and bands, DeJohnette has also been a 25-year member of the immensely popular Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette Trio and appeared on more ECM albums than any other musician.
DeJohnette’s latest release is Peace Time, an hour-long continuous piece of music composed and performed by Jack: “flights of flute, soft hand drumming and the gently percolating chime of cymbal play, moving the piece along a river of meditative delight. Subdued layers of overtone singing and the distant drones of sitars waft in and out like comforting and familiar spirit guides that manifest themselves in sound.” (eMusic)
Here is a clip of Jack DeJohnette playing with Keith Jarrett and Gary Peacock in 1985: