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Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels (2012)

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Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

With 2012 barely underway, it looks like it's going to be a year to remember for drum legend Jack DeJohnette. The renowned rhythmic force behind classic recordings from Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
, Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
b.1938
saxophone
, Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
b.1945
piano
—and numerous notable projects of his own—will receive some well-deserved recognition when he's inducted into the National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Master Fellowship in January. Crossing the globe to bring his music to admirers around the world, 2012 also marks his 70th birthday. Putting him at an age when many people rest on their laurels and look back at their accomplishments with pride, DeJohnette keeps looking forward as he creates music that jazz fans can look forward to hearing.

Yet another cause for celebration, Sound Travels, is an easy-to-digest, cross-stylistic journey featuring some A-list players. DeJohnette's objective was "to make something that would make people move, to make them relax and forget their troubles." He wanted to "bring a smile" with these songs, which highlight his compositional and performance skills (on piano and drums), and there is, indeed, plenty to smile about.

DeJohnette bookends the album with two beautiful solo piano performances—the Zen-like "Enter Here" and Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim
b.1934
piano
-inspired "Home"—but works with an all-star lineup elsewhere, with a few special guests invited to the party. Pianist Jason Moran
Jason Moran
Jason Moran
b.1975
piano
makes an appearance on "Indigo Dreamscape," first heard on the leader's Parallel Realities (MCA, 1990), while beyond-category vocalist Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
b.1950
vocalist
brings his inimitable vocals to the serene and absorbing "Oneness," and Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Hornsby
b.1954
piano
drops in to sing on an instantly likeable, odd-metered roots-rock number co-written with DeJohnette, "Dirty Ground."

While these high profile guests will likely bring some greater attention to the project, the band on hand needs no help delivering quality music. The two horns that appear at various times throughout the album—trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
Ambrose Akinmusire
b.1982
trumpet
and saxophonist Tim Ries
Tim Ries
Tim Ries

saxophone
—add volumes as individuals, prove complementary in terms of blend and balance, and provide contrast in solo styles ("New Muse"). Other strong contributions come from guitarist Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
Lionel Loueke
b.1973
guitar
, who puts an African slant on a calypso written in honor of Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
("Sonny Light"), and percussionist Luisito Quintero, who seasons the music with Latin spices ("Salsa for Luisito") and adds to the jam-based vibe on the brief title track. Bassist Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
anchors the group with her buoyant bottom end, but it's her angelically soulful pipes that may garner more attention, as she wordlessly glides along on "Salsa for Luisito."

DeJohnette's drum and piano work is more functional than flashy, reflecting the big-picture wisdom he's always shown, but his taste and talent are always apparent. While the title of this record may or may not have been an intentional double entendre, Sound Travels rings true; whether viewed as a globe-trotting aural odyssey or comfortable sojourn, both qualities make for an enjoyable listen.


Track Listing: Enter Here; Salsa for Luisito; Dirty Ground; New Muse; Sonny Light; Sound Travels; Oneness; Indigo Dreamscapes; Home.

Personnel: Jack DeJohnette: piano (1-7, 9), drums (2-6, 8), resonating bell (1), vocal (2), keyboards (3); Tim Ries: tenor saxophone (2, 3, 5, 8), soprano saxophone (3, 4); Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet (2, 4, 5); Lionel Loueke: guitar (2, 3, 5, 6); Esperanza Spalding: bass (2-6, 8), vocal (2, 3); Luisito Quintero: percussion (2-8), vocal (2); Bruce Hornsby: vocal (3); Bobby McFerrin: vocal (7); Jason Moran: piano (8).

Record Label: eOne Music

Style: Modern Jazz


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