Trio Beyond, led by drummer Jack DeJohnette, came together in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2004 to present a tip of the hat to Tony Williams' Lifetime, the trio the legendary drummer formed after leaving Miles Davis' second great quintet in 1969. Lifetime featured a full-throttle drums/organ/guitar attack and fired off a loud, rock-infused opening salvo in the then-new fusion explosion. Trio Beyond boasts the same instrumental lineup, with DeJohnette in the drummer's chair, Larry Goldings taking on Larry Young's organ duties, and John Scofield assuming John McLaughlin's guitar part.
Williams, who joined Miles Davis in 1963 as a seventeen-year-old, was an aggressively propulsive dynamo on the drum set. DeJohnettewho replaced Williams in Miles' group just in time for the classic Bitches Brew
is better known for a more textural, melodic approach on his own recordings and in his longstanding role in Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio. But he turns up the juice on Saudades
, going for an in-your-face, high-octane approach that's similar, if not identical, to Williams' powerhouse percussion mode.
The group opens the two-disc live set with a blistering take on Joe Henderson's "If," ten minutes of implacable, forward-blowing fusion sound churned out by a trio of equals. Every rock guitarist should listen to Scofield's stinging, sharp-edged lead, with DeJohnette snapping and poppingbig snaps, hard popsbehind him as Goldings lays down aggressive gusts on the Hammond organ.
The title tune, credited to all three artists, is another ten-minute epic. It sounds like a truculent, pared-down Bitches Brew
outtake, with Scofield wah-wahing in front of DeJohnette's jackhammer power. The group also visits "Seven Steps to Heaven" and the classic "I Fall In Love too Easily," both vehicles for Miles' mid to late-sixties groups, along with John Coltrane's "Big Nick" and a couple of Tony Williams tunes, "Pee Wee" and "Emergency," from the drummer's Miles period and Lifetime, respectively.
This is strong stuff, not made for a lot of analysis. Turn it up loud and sit back, let the sounds put a shiver in your rib cage and blow the hair around on your head.
Visit Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield and Larry Goldings on the web.
Personnel: Jack DeJohnette: drums; John Scofield: guitars; Larry Goldings: Hammond organ, electric