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Live Reviews

Four Chicagoans Stir Up Musical Turbulence in NYC: Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Ken Vandermark and Jack DeJohnette

By Published: April 27, 2009
They also play within some kind of traditional jazz framework. Drummer Martin Van Duynhoven and bassist Wilbert De Joode might be said to be harshly lacking in reverberational qualities, but they're operating as a partially perverted rhythm section, sometimes suggesting a skeletal bebop, but using the language of freedom. Baars and Vandermark's Rudd homage offers an extreme virtuoso tenor display, a percussive dialogue that demands quick thought and instant responses, ranging from curt blurts to extended micro-dashes. Both hornmen also break out into throaty post-bop, post-free solos at unexpected points, before snapping back to the upper register needling.

The humor that's come to be expected from Dutch players is present in a more arid form, less obvious than usual. Much of the music comes across as stern and cerebral, cool and spiky, but there's also a woody heart to be found, if the audience squints as closely as Baars demands.

Jack DeJohnette/John Patitucci/Danilo Pérez

The Blue Note

April 19, 2009

Here's the final set of the final night of this trio's six-day residency, and they just don't want to leave the stage, delivering one of The Blue Note's maximum-length sets as they just about hit the 90-minute mark. There are no flaggings, and the music moves through many, many moods, constructing a cumulative mass that's almost like that of an extended suite, an exploration of jazz at its most ethnically-shaded. Having said this, any particular country's folkloric pattern is rarely specifically evident as a source: this trio prefers a pan-African, pan-Latin, pan-Asian vocabulary that becomes a part of their own improvising personalities, creating a specific group sound.

They're celebrating the release of Music We Are, the new album on the Chicago-born Jack DeJohnette's own label, Golden Beams, and they're in deep ecstasy, winning a special award for particularly close eye contact and sensitive receptivity. It's best for the audience to keep a close watch on these three, as DeJohnette is brushing his just-out-of sight electro-pads, widening the percussive palette, and the Panamanian Danilo Pérez has his back turned, hunching over something to the side of his piano that sounds just like a set of tablas, but must surely be his synthesiser keyboard. Meanwhile, John Patitucci is swapping between upright acoustic and his wide-necked six-string electric bass, according to the misty-dreaming or humid-funking needs of each number. There are varying degrees of flamboyance: Pérez in a constant state of childlike excitement, as he hits another loquacious run on the keys, DeJohnette the calmest, with Patitucci inhabiting the middle ground, as a rubberised funkline creator, with a bobbing head to match. The range is phenomenal, cutting from raging fusion to temple-like meditation. DeJohnette thunders around his skins and cymbals with ear-shaking power, but a few minutes later, both band and hushed audience are communing in one of the most peaceful stretches of concentration ever witnessed in a jazz club.

Trombonist Steve Turre is sitting at the table in front of your scribe, and he looks like he's entering into a deeply trance-like state.

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