A Fireside Chat with Jack DeJohnette
FJ: Why didn't you record more with the New Directions band?
JD: It was just hard to keep everybody together. I loved that band. I miss Lester because he was such a character. He had great imagination.
FJ: You featured Arthur Blythe and David Murray in your Special Edition group.
JD: That was with Peter Warren. There were quite a few incarnations of that group because then Chico Freeman came in and then John Purcell. We had David Murray and then we had Howard Johnson and then Rufus Reid came in and played bass. That was Album, Album. Then came Greg Osby and Greg Thomas and Mick Goodrich. Then Michael Cain joined and stayed in the group for seven or eight years. Greg left and then I had a guitarist, Marvin Sewell, who came in and we did one album. It was called Extra Special Edition for the Blue Note label and Bobby McFerrin joined us for that. That was an experimental record and it was nice. Then I did some things with Michael Cain and Steve Gorn, Dancing with Nature Spirits and then Oneness with Michael Cain and Jerome Harris, who is with us here in Chicago and Don Alias on percussion.
FJ: When did the trio with Gary Peacock and Keith Jarrett become known as the Standards Trio?
JD: I don't know, I guess after we just started playing standards. I mean, the first record we did was a Gary Peacock album, Tales of Another. That kind of brought us together and then we decided to call it the Keith Jarrett Trio. No, actually, it was the three names really and then people started calling it the Standards, and Standards stuck with us because it had a double meaning. We all played standards and we had a standard level of improvisation and quality of music that was a high standard. So it had a double meaning. The other thing about it was that we were all tremendously influenced by the Ahmad Jamal Trio. We had that in common. The idea was that we could play standards and the idea was for it not to be a band, so rather than have arrangements, we did standards or free improvisation. You need a vehicle that we could use to create improvised music on. We said that we would do it until we don't feel like doing it. Twenty years later, we are still doing it.
FJ: The majority of the trio's recordings have been in a live setting. Why?
JD: Well, you get the spontaneity of the audience. Keith likes to document the developments of the trio. There is some magic you can capture. You take a risk. You never know what is going to come out. What makes it worthwhile is the challenge of keeping it fresh and trying to generate something that feeds ourselves spiritually, musically, and emotionally and also can feed our audience especially in the turbulent times we are in right now.
FJ: How is Keith's health?