Jack DeJohnette – Works (1985)

LPFrontCover1Jack DeJohnette (born August 9, 1942) is an American jazz drummer, pianist, and composer.

An important figure of the fusion era of jazz, DeJohnette is one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th century, given his extensive work as leader and sideman for musicians including Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, Alice Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and John Scofield. He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2007. (wikipedia)

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And here´s a pretty compilation:

Jack DeJohnette has, of course, been long known as the go-to drummer on practically every Keith Jarrett trio album ever to be released on ECM. But he has also led a phenomenal double life as a composer and bandleader, and his strengths in those capacities—along with his mastery of the kit—are highlighted in this compilation. For intensity of atmosphere, you can’t go wrong with “Bayou Fever.” The opening tune off 1978’s New Directions places him in the esteemed company of trumpeter Lester Bowie, guitarist John Abercrombie, and bassist Eddie Gomez. Against Abercrombie’s surreal backdrop, Bowie’s trumpeting is delirious yet lucid while the band pulls its blues from another dimension. Building tension without release, they sustain their balance over an expanse of marshland, amphibious dreams, and childhood memories. Two cuts from the output of DeJohnette’s Special Edition outfit reveal deeper layers of his craftwork. “One For Eric,” from the band’s 1980 self-titled debut, situates Arthur Blythe (alto saxophone), David Murray (bass clarinet), and Peter Warren (bass) in a classic eruption of creative magma and shows DeJohnette at his most cathartic. As does “The Gri Gri Man” (Tin Can Alley, 1981) at his most atmospheric. Featuring the man of the hour on congas, drums, organ, and timpani, it illustrates distant and arid terrain even as it carries a storm’s worth of rain in the heart.

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“To Be Continued,” from the 1981 album of the same name, reshuffles the deck and deals a new hand with guitarist Terje Rypdal and bassist Miroslav Vitous. As one of the most inspired combinations to spring from the mind of producer Manfred Eicher, it couldn’t not be represented here. Rypdal’s blue solar flares, in tandem with Vitous’s joyous extroversions, provide the very substance through which DeJohnette draws his continuous thread. A likeminded masterstroke is the Gateway trio with Abercrombie and bassist Dave Holland. Where the guitarist’s original “Unshielded Desire” (Gateway, 1975) is a duet with DeJohnette that finds the musicians speaking two dialects of the same fervent language, “Blue” (Gateway 2, 1978) swaps drums for piano in a lyrical love letter to time itself.

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Taken together, these selections offer a glimpse into a career that continues to evolve yet compresses it into an idol worthy of self-regard. Candid, rooted, and authentic are the names of the game. (Tyran Grillo)


John Abercrombie (guitar on 01. + 05.,, mandolin on 01. + 06.)
Arthur Blythe (saxophone on 04.)
Lester Bowie (trumpet on 01.)
Eddie Gomez (bass on 01)
Dave Holland (bass on 06.)Jack DeJohnette (drums, percussion, organ on 02., piano on 06.)
David Murray (clarinet on 04.)
Terje Rypdal (guitar on 03.)
Miroslav Vitous (bass on 03.)
Peter Warren (bass on 04.)


01. Bayou Fever (1978) 8.45
02. The Gri Gri Man (1981) 4.51
03. To Be Continued (1981) 9.18
04. One For Eric (1980) 9.55
05. Unshielded Desire (1975) 4.54
06. Blue (1977) 8.14

Works is a series of ten albums which is being released on the occasion of ECM’s 15th anniversary. The series presents recordings of ten musicians who have been working with ECM from the beginning. The Works albums are available in a limited edition only.



More from Jack DeJohnette:

Jack DeJohnette’s Directions – New Rags (1977)

FrontCover1.jpgToday’s Rediscovery is an album that, despite never being released officially on CD, is a relatively regular play chez Kelman, getting spun at least a couple times every year. New Rags (ECM, 1977), the third—and, sadly, final—recording by drummer Jack DeJohnette’s Directions group, pares down the quintet of its second album and ECM debut to a quartet, where Cosmic Chicken bassist Peter Warren is replaced by Mike Richmond and keyboardist Warren Bernhardt is eliminated from the lineup after making his single set appearance with the group on Untitled (ECM, 1976).

The Chicago-born drummer is left, on New Rags, alongside guitarist (and fellow ECM label mate) John Abercrombie, lesser known but still busy session saxophonist Alex Foster and Richmond, another name less familiar to casual jazz fans but with a sizeable discography to suggest plenty of name power amongst musicians, It’s an album that, perhaps even more than its broad-scoped predecessor, succeeds in positioning DeJohnette as not just one of jazz’s most impressive drummers—even at this relatively early stage, about a decade into the then 35 year-old drummer’s career, having already clocked up two major gigs with Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis—but as a composer, instrumentalist and bandleader of increasing significance.

DeJohnette and Abercrombie were already good friends by this time, the guitarist having played on the drummer’s two Prestige dates: 1974’s Sorcery, as well as 1975’s Cosmic Jack DeJohnette01.jpgChicken—neither particularly well-received. DeJohnette returned the favour by appearing on Abercrombie’s Timeless—the guitarist’s 1975 ECM leader debut that quickly became a classic for both Abercrombie and the label—while the two began their on-again/off-again collaborative trio with bassist (and fellow Miles Davis alum) Dave Holland, Gateway, with its critically acclaimed eponymous ECM debut the same year.

But if Timeless explored a combination of keyboard-driven electricity and stripped down acoustic elegance, and Gateway found that unique nexus where Holland’s predilection for groove met with the freewheeling trio’s collective improvisational chemistry, New Rags explores three DeJohnette compositions of remarkable diversity, along with Foster’s more harmonically ambiguous but potently swinging “Flys,” and “Steppin’ Through”—the rocking, near (but not quite) fusion powerhouse that closes the album on a supremely fiery note, moving from pedal- to-the-metal intensity with Foster’s opening salvo to more spacious, open terrain, only to return to its unrelenting, riff-driven intro for a solo from Abercrombie. Overdriven and unfettered, it’s one of the guitarist’s best of the set—pushed to even greater extremes by DeJohnette’s cymbal-heavy power groove before the entire quartet brings things down for an ultimate fade-out.

One of DeJohnette’s most enduring qualities as a writer throughout the years has been a wry sense of humor, which has imbued many of his best compositions, including “One for Eric” and “Zoot Suite,” both from the drummer’s eponymous 1980 debut of the twin-saxophone (and occasionally trumpet)-driven Special Edition group, whose four ECM recordings were reissued in one of the label’s Old & New Masters Edition boxes, Special Edition, in 2013. New Rags may wax lyrical on “Lydia,” a gorgeous ballad named after the drummer’s wife that features DeJohnette on piano, but on his episodic title track, DeJohnette drives his group to shift gears seamlessly between ambling free bop, challenging stop/start compositional segues with brief moments of bump-and-grind burlesque…and an irregularly metered calypso ending that may seem like a non sequitur but, ultimately, makes perfect sense in DeJohnette’s stylistically unbound musical universe.

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It’s not particularly uncommon for drummers to play piano, but few are as good as DeJohnette, who could easily have focused his energy on that instrument rather than drums with similar success…but we’ll never know, as it’s an instrument he only brings out occasionally. Still, when he does—as he does here on “Lydia” and later on the even more memorable “Silver Hollow”—a standout track on the subsequent debut of his reconfigured New Directions group (with only Abercrombie remaining in the lineup) on its 1978 ECM debut of the same name—he invariably demonstrates a particular penchant for melodic specificity.

The lengthy, open-ended “Minya’s the Mooch”—named after his then-young daughter and a play on “Minnie the Moocher,” made famous by Cab Calloway—opens the album with an elliptical, visceral bass line from Richmond that anchors an atmospheric collection of delicate cymbals and volume pedal-swelling guitar. Foster enters with powerful aplomb, ultimately pushing the group first towards double time energy, but then dissolving into a melée of apparent chaos—except for the cued figure that reveals more method than madness—before a closing section that returns to the more ethereal atmospherics of the intro.

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How the entire group moves through these various passages as one is what makes Directions such a memorable group that, building on the success of Untitled, delivers an even more impressive sophomore effort. What’s less impressive is that both Untitled and New Rags remain unavailable—and would make a perfect double-disc set to bring all of DeJohnette’s albums as a leader on ECM into print on CD. Until then, both albums—both worthy of Rediscovery, but with New Rags beating out Untitled by a hair— are enjoyed, chez Kelman, in a vinyl>CDR transfer that sounds absolutely wonderful on the Tetra Listening Instruments. ECM’s painstaking attention to sonic transparency and pristine clarity is a particularly beautiful thing to behold here, on a record that covers considerable dynamic territory…and is all the better for it.

So, what are your thoughts? Do you know this record, and if so, how do you feel about it?(John Kelman)

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John Abercrombie (guitar, mandolin)
Jack DeJohnette (drums, piano)
Alex Foster (saxophone)
Mike Richmond (bass)


01. Minya’s The Mooch (DeJohnette) 11.30
02. Lydia (Foster) 3.43
03. Flys (Foster) 6.07
04. New Rags (DeJohnette) 9.08
05. Steppin’ Thru (Foster) 10.29



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