Thursday, February 9, 2012

CD Review: Jack DeJohnette “Sound Travels”

Jack DeJohnette

Sound Travels

Filled with Latin rhythms, Caribbean passion merging perfectly with contemplative meditations  and some straight ahead jazz, legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette delivers up a disk that feels much younger than his 70 years. There’s even a tune that should light up the album orientated rock stations, the bluesy tune with a 7/4 time signature, “Dirty Ground” with Bruce Hornsby on vocals.

Other co-conspirators in this marvelous work include Bobby McFerrin on vocals and percussion and last years surprise Grammy Winner, Esperanza Spalding on acoustic and electric bass as well as an improv vocal on one tune. Joining them are new talents Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet and Lionel Loueke on guitar, plus jazz main-stays, saxophonist Tim Ries, percussionist Luisito Quintero and on one track pianist Jason Moran. 

JackDeJohnetteByJosKnaepen03 Perhaps the most influential jazz drummer of the last half of the 20th century, Jack DeJohnette was one of the first drummers to incorporate free jazz and world music into his playing, all the while maintaining that deep groove of jazz and R&B in his style. Consequently, he was drawn to play with some of the greatest players and composers in the post bebop era. He played with Bill Evans in 1968 on the acclaimed Bill Evans at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Then, in ‘69 he became a  mainstay with the Miles Davis group and a key component of Davis’ master piece of fusion, Bitches Brew.

He’s led several groups since the early ‘70s, including Compost, a jazz-rock group, Directions (with John Abercrombie, Alex Foster, Warren Bernhardt, and Mike Richmond); New Directions (with Abercrombie, Lester Bowie, and Eddie Gomez); Gateway (with John Abercrombie and Dave Holland); and Special Edition (with David Murray, Chico Freeman, Arthur Blythe, Peter Warren, and others). Since the 1980s, he has been a member of what has become known as Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio alongside Jarrett and Gary Peacock. In 2003 he formed Trio Beyond with Larry Golding on organ, and guitarists John Scofield.The trio is a tribute to the great Tony Williams Lifetime trio. He also plays as a member of the Bruce Hornsby Trio.

Jack DeJohnette - Sound Travels from Normal Life Pictures on Vimeo.

 

This album displays wonderful melodies and deep grooves and DeJohnette composed all the tunes. He also plays piano (his first instrument) on nearly all the tracks and his passion and tenderness are apparent on the two “bookend” lyrical solos that start and end the album.  The addition of Esperanza Spalding on some of the tracks is pure genius, and she improvises beautifully over the chord changes in “Salsa For Luisito”.

One other highlight song is “Sonny Light”, a tribute to the great Sonny Rollins. It’s a dance tune dripping in Caribbean rhythms and featuring the nylon-string guitar mastery of Lionel  Loueke. And, you’ll enjoy the angular melody of “Indigo Dreamscape” and it’s smooth groove. Jack Dejohnette soundThis is a new arrangement of the tune, first heard on DeJohnette’s 1990 Parallel Realities album which featured Herbie Hancock and Pat Metheny. The new arrangement makes room for Spalding on bass and the horn section. It’s a nice track and feels fresh and full of light.

 Sound Travels is a welcome addition, and a great present to himself on this milestone birth year. It’ll make you smile, it’ll make you move and it’ll make you relax and forget the troubles in your life and in the world for just a little while.

 

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2012 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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