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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.

Drummer/pianist/composer/bandleader Jack DeJohnette turns seventy this year, and his longevity on the scene is only eclipsed by the astonishing variety of settings in which he's worked. Since emerging from his hometown Chicago, the ubiquitous drummer has played with important artists including saxophonist Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd
b.1938
saxophone
, trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
and pianists Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
and Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
Keith Jarrett
b.1945
piano
(with whom he still works today). And then there are his wonderfully eclectic Special Edition groups—always on the cutting edge. Although anyone could hear his crisp technique, what makes DeJohnette such a powerful and profound drummer is his telepathic ability to find the right groove—the vital rhythmic center, the musical middle path—that augments the swing factor of whatever musical context in which he's working.

DeJohnette's gifts as a multidirectional musician are on full display on this nine-track recording that dances and trances in myriad tones and tempos. At this stage of his career, DeJohnette has nothing to prove, drum-wise, so the overall tantric timbre of Sound Travels is mostly mid-tempo, with some ballad selections. But this does not mean that the CD is a snoozer—far from it. Thanks to DeJohnette's uncanny (for an American) mastery of Afro-Latin rhythms and the melodic nature of his drumming—made manifest by his also being an acclaimed pianist—the leader opens and concludes Sound Travels with two solo piano selections: the Asian-tinged, bell-intro'd, "Enter Here," and the reflective, Cape Town-cadenced "Home"—a nod to the great South African piano master Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim
Abdullah Ibrahim
b.1934
piano
. Save for the hypnotic "Oneness," laced with guest vocalist Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
Bobby McFerrin
b.1950
vocalist
's vivid vocalese, the Spain-sketched blues "New Muse," and "Dirty Ground"—a Mardi Gras Indian, Big Easy shout-out christened by Tim Ries
Tim Ries
Tim Ries

saxophone
' second line soprano sax phrases, topped by the Crescent City-style vocals of Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Hornsby
Bruce Hornsby
b.1954
piano
—the remainder of Sound Travels is a percussive, Pan-African affair.

"Salsa for Luisito," is a sexy medium-tempo track featuring spry, pixie-ish vocals from bassist Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
Esperanza Spalding
b.1984
bass, acoustic
that would be welcome in New York's Spanish Harlem or Miami's Calle Ocho. On "Sonny Light" and the title track, DeJohnette delivers a Calypso-coded "big up" to the West Indian-descended Saxophone Colossus, Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
. "Indigo Dreamscapes"—first heard on DeJohnette's Parallel Realities (MCA, 1990), featuring guitarist Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
Pat Metheny
b.1954
guitar
and keyboardist Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock
b.1940
piano
—is revived here in a more organic, acoustic setting, highlighted by guest Jason Moran
Jason Moran
Jason Moran
b.1975
piano
's probing pianism and Ries' silken tenor.

Throughout Sound Travels, DeJohnette—particularly with Venezuelan percussionist Luisito Quintero—establishes the groove, morphing and shaping it, and extending it with such seeming ease and panache that is reminiscent of that old commercial tag line "so advanced its simple." But then, that's what masters like Jack DeJohnette do.


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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