Jack DeJohnette: Colors, Grooves, Golden Beams

Paul Olson By

Sign in to view read count
I love to play grooves. Aside from swinging, and being abstract, I also love to be in the pocket and make a groove something substantial.
Jack DeJohnetteWhen you hear Jack DeJohnette's playing, you know it's him. No living jazz drummer is more accomplished, better-known or more technically equipped than the 64-year-old, Chicago-born DeJohnette, and no other drummer plays with his particular blend of unerring time, power and groove. After some years as a Chicago musician (as much in demand as a pianist there as a drummer), and associations with AACM players like Roscoe Mitchell and Muhal Richard Abrams, the second half of the 1960s saw DeJohnette come to national—and international—prominence as a member of the wildly-popular Charles Lloyd Quartet (which also included perennial collaborator Keith Jarrett).

That prominence has never waned. DeJohnette's played with Freddie Hubbard, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, Joe Henderson, Thelonious Monk, Sonny Rollins, and of course with Miles Davis, who hired him in 1968, just in time for the musical upheaval of Miles' electric period and the epochal Bitches Brew. DeJohnette still occupies the drum stool in Keith Jarrett's so-called Standards Trio (which also features bassist Gary Peacock), a monumentally important and esteemed band that, in its 23rd year, somehow seems to be getting even better.

Then, of course, there's DeJohnette's sizable body of work as a leader of such groups as Directions and New Directions (the latter band including guitarist John Abercrombie and trumpeter Lester Bowie, two important collaborators), and classic, essential recordings like Album Album (ECM, 1984), Sorcery (OJC, 1974), Oneness (ECM, 1996), often on the ECM label. Really, one struggles to include all of his major projects—the collaborative trio Gateway (with Abercrombie and bassist Dave Holland) and the DeJohnette-led, rotating-cast Special Edition come immediately to mind.

DeJohnette formed his own record imprint, Golden Beams Productions, in 2004. The imprint has released four CDs to date including the new The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers (Golden Beams, 2006), a superlative collaboration with guitarist Bill Frisell. This year also saw the release of Saudades, (ECM, 2006), a two-CD live recording by Trio Beyond, a group composed of DeJohnette, guitarist John Scofield and organist Larry Goldings. While the band was ostensibly formed as a sort of homage to the late drummer Tony Williams and his band Lifetime, Trio Beyond is a good deal more than a tribute act, and the album contains some ferocious playing—the group's format and attack give DeJohnette considerable freedom to play and he uses that freedom eagerly and thrillingly.

It's an exciting group. I called DeJohnette at home in Woodstock, New York to discuss Trio Beyond, the Golden Beams label, and more.

All About Jazz: You've been very busy with a bunch of different musical projects, some of them on your own label. I think we should start with the Trio Beyond project, and move back from there. This is a band composed of yourself, John Scofield and Larry Goldings. It pays tribute to Tony Williams and his group Lifetime, and has the same guitar/drums/organ configuration as that band. But on your new live set Saudades, which was recorded in 2004, you actually touch on all sorts of things: you do some great Lifetime numbers, but you also do other songs written by Tony, or stuff associated Tony or Lifetime organist Larry Young. It's about Tony and a lot of other great people. "If, for example, is a song from Larry Young's Unity (Blue Note, 1965) album and makes me think about Elvin Jones, who drummed on it, or Joe Henderson, who wrote it and played on it.

Jack DeJohnette: It's kind of a tribute to a lot of different directions. And we have more material, our own original material; it just didn't get on there. But the basis of the idea started when I heard that group Lifetime. John heard it also, and it had a profound effect on us both in terms of that setup of organ, drums and guitar. But we realized, when we started touring and playing, that the music began developing organically in many directions of its own. But also, we didn't want to be locked into being a cover band or a tribute band. Instead, we wanted to use people like Tony as a composer and drummer, and Miles, Joe Henderson, Larry Young, John McLaughlin, Coltrane, as sorts of satellites, as a basis for improvising. It also immediately gave us a great selection of repertoire to choose from, so we didn't have to really write a lot of music right away.

AAJ: An immediate book.

JD: Yeah. I mean, I've got some songs, John has some tunes—we're all composers, but we figured gradually, as the band develops and we find time to come together and play, with our busy schedules, we'd add more original things. But it's fun; the big aspect of it is the chemistry between everybody and the high level of creativity that happens, which inspires everybody to go full-out and challenge themselves and challenge each other. It's a lot of fun.

AAJ: It sounds fun on the record. People might talk about chemistry a little too much, but I do think the chemistry of this band is special. It sounds like everyone's pretty invigorated.

JD: We just did a gig—well, two gigs. We did a gig in Europe at the Coutances Jazz Festival and then we flew out to L.A. to do a gig, which was John's gig. They told him he could come out with any configuration he wanted, and he said he wanted the Trio Beyond. So we flew straight out there from France to play the U.C.L.A Jazz and Reggae Festival. And you know, since the last time we played, the development [laughing] has just shot up a lot faster. Everyone's just psyched to do it, and I can hear the growth of everybody since then.

AAJ: Larry's pretty great on this record. I really love his bass lines, which work so well with your drumming—you each occupy an area that's very complimentary with the other. He's really all over the organ here and his bit of Rhodes on the beginning of "I Fall in Love Too Easily is wonderful as well. Tell me about Larry—what you like about playing with him, what it is he's best at.

JD: Well Larry is quite an eclectic musician. He's also a great pianist and composer. But he's ridiculous on organ; I think he's expanding the role of the organ, the old Hammond B-3 with the Leslie speaker. Getting colors out of it—it's got those drawbars and you can create a whole bunch of colors. Larry's also incorporating electronics; he's using electronic pedals, loops, computers, samples and all that kind of stuff. So that's in there as well. But Larry also swings his ass off! He's one of the swingingest organists around. And he doesn't repeat his bass lines. If you listen to his harmonic sense, which is very astute, he's always creatively changing his bass lines. And he plays very close to how a bassist feels—sometimes you forget you're listening to an organ bass, because his lines are so hip, and his colors and his chords and his rhythmic thing. Harmonically, rhythmically, melodically—the ball gets passed around. So we're always psyched to play, because we're wanting to see what happens next. Somebody'll play something, and it sets off the other two and gets passed around.

AAJ: Okay, then, the third player in the band is John Scofield. I don't think I've ever heard him in such a broad context. He's got plenty of room to solo, but there's more to it than that. He's playing all sorts of stuff: single-note lines, chordal stuff, freeform exploration, heavy riffing, all in a great variety of tones. Any notions about what you like about playing with him here?

JD: Well, John is a unique innovator and also a very, very distinct voice. When you hear John, you know it's him. Nobody else has a sound like that, or that phrasing on guitar. John has this great combination of funk and sophistication. I think that's the chemistry that all three of us have together, actually. Larry's played with Maceo Parker, and a lot of guys like that—a real cross-section of music. We all really love the blues and we all really love funk and electronic music. And, you know, jazz. So there's this spectrum, shall we say, for lack of a better word, of the many different world cultural influences that jazz takes in.

And so John incorporates all of that. But when he needs to be technical, he can do that, too. He has that slippery, kind of laid-back way that he plays, but when we played those last two gigs, he and Larry both were rippin' off lines [laughing] that were really amazing. It's a great combination with this trio, where we get a chance to really just play for the joy of it, and explore. It stimulates me in what I'll play, but it also stimulates everybody in terms of realizing the amount of freedom we have—along with the discipline. John has a balance of all of that, as far as playing lines. Then there's the electronic stuff that he does, which is very great, and the way we use that in this trio is really great as well. I particularly like the way John and Larry utilize that on things like "Saudades, and "Emergency.

AAJ: That's a big part of what this band does. Those places where it goes off the map—the electronics seem like an important tool to push it in that area.

JD: Yeah. So there are all these different colors. I'm glad we captured the band live; this is a great live band. This recording was done on the next-to-last gig of an almost-three-week tour. That's why the music was at such a high level—because we had been playing this music every night. And it's different every night. I think we captured that magic.

AAJ: The band is very tight on that record. There's plenty of freedom, but the way you transition between tunes, and parts of tunes, like on the sequence of "As One, "Allah Be Praised, and "Saudades, displays a tightness that's very exciting to hear.

JD: Yeah, you don't hear it too often! It's true. Not to say that there aren't other creative musicians out there doing the same thing—I've heard some of them. [ECM head] Manfred [Eicher] was excited about the idea of it, and then when I sent it to him and he heard it, he said, "yeah, this is great, and we have to put this out. So it's great; they're really excited about it and there's this big buzz about it. I hope it continues.

AAJ: Well, you've got gigs booked for this year.

JD: We're touring Europe. We may play New York next year—we might try playing the Blue Note. I'm not sure; we're thinking about that.

AAJ: I asked about the other two musicians, but what about you? Is there anything in particular in your playing that this group brings out?

JD: Yeah, most definitely. It gives me a chance to play full-throttle. More than normal. Well, not normal, but more than you hear me, say, with Keith Jarrett or appearing on some other records as a guest artist in a more supportive role. I'm more extroverted here. And here it fits, because the volume level, the dynamic level and the creative level all match. So it's a great place for me to open up, because I don't have to worry about overpowering anything. It's definitely a power trio in that sense. So, yeah, it's great for me, and I'm happy that people can get a chance to hear this side of me where I'm drumming more than normal. People who know I play the drums really well get a chance to hear how well I really play them [laughing].

AAJ: I recognize that you might still be playing these songs, or you might be miles beyond at this point.

Jack DeJohnetteJD: Well, at the moment we're still doing that material. Plus we'll throw in some other tunes that aren't on the CD. We do Wayne Shorter's "Fall or "Delores, or "Moontrane, from Larry Young's Unity album—that tune by Woody Shaw. So we have other things in the repertoire that we throw in. John has a nice up-tempo blues. We've got more than enough material to keep it fresh.

AAJ: "Spectrum is one of my big favorites here. It's a McLaughlin tune from the first Lifetime record. I really like the actual composition here—I love the harmonies that the band gets to play through and I love how it goes from that tight, crunching group tempo into the abstract second section. It sort of blurs its way into that. It's downright psychedelic in this part with its organ swells, drum rolls, guitar electronics, and that backwards effect of John's. Any insights into this one?

JD: No, you kind of spelled it out. That's it—that's what happened. I think the music speaks for itself. I have no analytical thing about it, except that it's exploratory and there's a strong sense of compositional symmetry, and we just keep our ears and our hearts open. We follow where the music takes us.

AAJ: I think one place it takes you is the blues. "I Fall in Love too Easily brings out a sweet bluesy side of the group, and the improv "Love in Blues sort of develops out of that one. When improv pieces occur, do they sort of flower—like this one seems to—organically from the known material?

JD: Yeah. We kind of thrive off of that. Maybe we might do something at the beginning or at the end of a piece. There's always something that happens—a vamp, or some kind of mood that we'll follow and develop. We look forward to that, to that expanding on a theme.

AAJ: I'm glad you're doing "Emergency, because I think some people might have forgotten about that tune, and that tune is such a classic. I've always loved that four-note vamp riff.

JD: Oh, yeah, man! And I really think we got to the essence there of what the original Lifetime was playing on that on the original. We got the flavor of it, but then we took it beyond that, too. Or at least we like to think we did, anyway.

AAJ: The music from that record is now a couple of years old. Has anything changed besides the band just becoming more and more gelled?

JD: Well, yeah. I answered that for you earlier when I told you that at those two concerts, Larry and John were playing technically more fluently. There's a big level of growth that's happened.

AAJ: I do think you thrive in trio settings. The Gateway trio, Jarrett's Standards Trio—

JD: Trios and duos.

AAJ: Do you think you have an affinity for those two settings?

JD: It seems that way. A trio is a magic number, you know. It's like the triangle. And with a duo, as well, there's an intimacy that happens. Again, it depends on the chemistry.

AAJ: You recently formed your own independent record label, Golden Beams Productions, which started releasing product in 2004, I believe.

JD: I guess it was the end of 2004. We've put out four releases since then. Some might say that that's a lot, but the reason for that is that a lot of the stuff is kind of diversified. The first one is a relaxation/meditation CD, Music in the Key of Om (Golden Beams, 2004), which actually got nominated for a Grammy! That was kind of a surprise. That's a project that I'd written for my wife Lydia and her healing work. I made it an hour long so people could really relax. I am definitely into music and sound for healing modalities.

The second CD was Music From the Hearts of the Masters (Golden Beams, 2005), with [kora player] Foday Musa Suso. The first time I'd heard him was on a record with Herbie Hancock about 20 years ago, when he was on Columbia—Village Life (Columbia, 1984). Herbie'd just gotten into electronics, with the synths, and they went into the studio and just improvised. Well, Foday actually wrote some songs for that, and we do one of them, "Moon/Light. He's a longstanding member of the Philip Glass Ensemble, and he also composes. He has his own group, the Mandingo Griot Society, and he lives in Chicago. He's been in the States for 20 years or so and goes home to his native Gambia for the winter months.

Anyway, when I heard that record, I really wanted to play with Foday, and by chance about three or four years ago, I was in London and I got ahold of him at this concert there, and said, "hey man, let's get together. He said, "yeah, I'm coming up to New York, and when I come up, I'll go up to your place and we'll do something. I have a professional studio in my house, and he came up, stayed for four days, and the results are what you hear on that CD. It's a different direction; it's more about the grooves. I think that Foday's one of the best jazz kora players around in the African sense. And in a jazz sense too, but not in a bebop or straight-ahead sense—in a unique sense all his own. When I play these grooves, it fires him up and stimulates him and then he feeds me; we go back and forth. Since we did that CD, it's now a trio—it has Jerome Harris in it.

AAJ: On bass or guitar?

JD: He's playing the acoustic bass guitar. Actually, we did a label-launching party at Joe's Pub in New York last year, and the results were stunning. Jerome's been involved in quite a few projects with me over the years, and he fits perfectly. He's a great supportive player, he knows how to play a groove, and he can swing. I can go in a lot of different directions with him. So the Hearts of the Masters group is now a trio. We may play one gig in August in Detroit at the World Music Festival. Hopefully, next fall we'll do something; we'd like to get more exposure in the States. It's really fun, creative, uplifting music and you can dance to it or just sit and pat your feet. And it's happy. It's really joyful music. Foday is just such a great spirit.

AAJ: It's a great record. It is happy, but there's nothing saccharine about it.

JD: And you know, I love to play grooves. Aside from swinging, and being abstract, I also love to be in the pocket and make a groove something substantial. And Foday lays down these nice patterns and off we go. It's a nice hookup. We've co-written some things together, too—some new tunes that are not on there that come from our playing together and what inspires us when we play.

And out of that came The Ripple Effect. My son-in-law, Ben Surman, who's actually the son of John Surman, the great saxophonist/composer—he's a musician, he plays saxophone, but he's also an excellent sound engineer; in fact, he's really in demand with a lot of jazz musicians and other people. He's worked with Christian McBride, Jim Hall. He's worked with John Scofield as his sound engineer and tech person and with me and John when we've done some dates here and in Europe.

He's also a great remix engineer; he has great creative sensibilities about remixing, and of course his palate in musical taste is quite broad, like the rest of us. But he has a unique way of putting it together, so we came up with this idea to remix some sessions that were already done, like three or four of the songs from Music From the Hearts of the Masters. Then there's this woman named Marlui Miranda; she's from Brazil and she's quite unique. She can improvise and she writes songs and has a beautiful voice. And then we did one track where it's just Ben and I. Basically, Ben just remixed everything. He'd have some suggestions: he'd take the basic foundation and then build on top of it. And that's Hybrids (Golden Beams, 2005). He rearranges it quite uniquely; I haven't heard anything else on that level that he remixes at. He just happens to be my son-in-law [laughing]. If he wasn't, I'd still say the same thing.

AAJ: Well, I can't imagine anyone hearing his work on Hybrids or The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers accusing you of nepotism.

JD: Well, the thing about the Ripple Effect, and remixes in general—you know, there's ambient and techno and all the different names they give the music—they don't play it a lot on radio. So we're in the process of figuring out how to do the Ripple Effect live, which we can do because Ben can do that live. We'd do it with Marlui, or sometimes we'd bring Foday in, and John Surman, depending on when anyone's available. We'll be working on getting more exposure; we've done mixes for clubs and maybe we might even go in and do some clubs. There's no one way to get this music out there. Yeah, we can stream it on my website, and on MySpace, but it's a little harder with this music to get people tuned in to it. Once people hear it, they love it.

So let's just say we're planting seeds with this music and with the label. And I'm doing smaller projects. Trio Beyond was a bigger project, and as I have a good working relationship with ECM, we have a thing where if I come up with something that I think, and that Manfred thinks, will work on the label—we agree on that and continue to work together. I work with him on the Keith Jarrett projects, so we've been in touch with each other over the years. So it's a nice kind of open setup here. I'm working right now on another relaxation CD, an extension, maybe, of the Om one, but it'll probably have a different name. We also have a duet project that's been sitting around for a while with [percussionist] Don Alias and myself called Welcome Blessing. You know, he passed away recently, so I want to do something really good with that to pay tribute.

All of the CDs on the label have gotten really positive reviews. The praise is still coming in for The Elephant. So I'm glad it's all happening.

AAJ: Well, that's the CD we haven't discussed—your new duet album with Bill Frisell, The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers, a live set from 2001.

JD: Well, Bill and I have actually known each other for a long time, but we never got the chance to play together too much. But [clarinetist] Don Byron, who's a good friend of mine, and a neighbor who lives up here, did a recording called Romance With the Unseen (Blue Note, 1999) with [bassist] Drew Gress and myself, and Bill and I got the chance to actually record and play together for a number of days. We did some live concerts with Don to help promote the CD—we played again pretty recently on a Tim Ries CD. You know Tim Ries—he's the saxophonist with the Rolling Stones. Great player and composer.

But prior to that, Bill and I had wanted to play together. So the opportunity came up while I was on tour with Keith Jarrett in the Northwest. John Gilbreath, who promotes the Earshot Festival in Seattle, Washington—since Bill and I were both there at the same time and I had the day off—gave us a day in a small theater to perform. We never rehearsed anything, except maybe "After the Rain. Maybe one other tune. But the rest of it, everything else on there, was improvised on the spot. This engineer, Sascha [Von Oertzen], recorded it. And, you know, the recording sat around for a while, and I sent Bill a copy of it. I listened to it, and said to Bill last year, "hey man, listen to that—I think there's some good stuff. Would you and your label mind me putting it out on Golden Beams? He said, "yeah, sounds great.

Trio Beyond: Larry Goldings, Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield

Then I thought, "well, it sounds nice, but it needs something else. Then I called in Ben, and said, "you know, take some liberties here with this. Add some ambient stuff—let's round it out a little bit. So Ben came in and just did beautiful work with it. He added some bass on "The Elephant at the beginning, which really captured the feel of what it was about, that sort of slow-moving feeling, the way the elephant goes. Then I listened to all the pieces and gave them titles. So I came up with all the titles. Except Ben came up with "One Tooth Shuffle. I love "Entranced Androids, "Ode to South Africa, and "Cartune Riots. So we delve into acoustic and electronic stuff, and it's quirky—it's a quirky CD, but I think it holds together. We're going to do a small tour in October, joined, again, by Jerome Harris. So that should be fun.

AAJ: Ben's additions to those pieces are very appropriate. Whether they were part of the original 2001 concert or not—and they weren't—it feels like an improvising trio. Which, in a sense, it is. It's a rather cool idea.

JD: Yeah. And speaking of trios—this is another note, but in terms of people who don't fit in a box, I just recently did a jazz recording with [pop singer/keyboardist] Bruce Hornsby; I think it's his first jazz recording. It's with [bassist] Christian Bride and myself. It hasn't been titled yet, but a lot of people are going to be surprised by his approach. He's taken on things like "Giant Steps, "Un Poco Loco, "Straight No Chaser, "Solar, just to name a few, and some original compositions. So that should come out at the end of year, or the beginning of next year. It was really fun, and Bruce is quite a creative guy—his knowledge and his musical taste go all over the place [laughing]. He comes to a lot of the Keith Jarrett concerts; he's a big Keith fan. But we kept talking about doing something and we finally got in the studio and did it, and it's fantastic.

So I'm happy about that. I also recently did a Nigel Kennedy jazz project. There's all these people from other areas [laughing] doing jazz projects! I mean, Nigel's kind of a classical music renegade. So we did this recording with Kenny Werner on piano and Ron Carter on bass, with some originals from Ron and myself. [saxophonist] Joe Lovano's on a few cuts, and another tenor player named J.D. Allen. And Lucky Peterson, that soul organ player. We were talking about The Elephant, but I thought I'd throw that in there.

AAJ: Let's get technical for a second. You changed your drumstick technique recently, didn't you, from traditional to match grip?

JD: Yeah. I did that by default, in a way, because I was having some muscle problems playing the other way. I had some special physical therapy for that, and I changed to the match grip, which actually feels more natural for me. I love it.

AAJ: I can't detect any difference in your playing.

JD: Well, it's the natural way you pick up a stick anyhow. So match grip is not strange, and it just feels like second nature to me now.

AAJ: As you noted previously, we lost Don Alias this year. The two of you had such a longstanding relationship, and I'm glad there's a recording done that we'll eventually be able to hear. You can't sum up a man in a few words, but any thoughts about him in the wake of his passing?

JD: Well, Don was first and foremost about the music. He was there 200 percent, and he cared about the music. He cared about keeping it real, you know—he was always very authentic. And he was one of the few percussion players who knew how to fit in with jazz drummers, because he played jazz drums himself. He was a pretty good drummer himself; in fact, he'd played gigs only on drums. He did that with Joni Mitchell. In fact, before I had the group Compost, we had a group with him and Jumma Santos [the percussionist who was also in Compost], and Don was playing drums.

But anyway, he had this feel, and he was one of the few conga drummers or hand percussionists that drummers didn't mind playing with. A lot of conga players kind of go off on their own trip—I'm not saying they all do. But you have to listen a lot, and Don knew how to listen, he knew how to leave a space, and he also knew what colors and what kind of feel to play. Don and I used to lock; he'd play rhythm and I'd just put something to it, and we'd get these grooves going that were amazing—which you'll hear on this Welcome Blessing when it comes out. He was also in the group Oneness that I had, and I've got archival tapes of live performances, but we also did the Oneness CD on ECM, which spotlights him quite a bit.

You know, Don was the conga player who got to play with all the top drummers—Tony, me, Elvin—and record with them. That's how well he was loved and respected in the jazz community and the Latin jazz community. He played bata, too, so he was initiated in those rhythms as well.

So, yeah—he's a deep loss, man. His physical presence will be missed. But his spirit will be here forever. It lives through the rest of us who experienced him—playing music with him and hanging with him.

AAJ: I have to ask about Keith Jarrett's so-called Standards Trio with you and Gary Peacock. This band has now been around for 23 years; that's a lot of live performances and a lot of recordings. To many of us, this is not getting old; the music is still moving. It still sounds fresh to me. Any insights into this group and why it's lasted so long?

JD: Not really. I mean, nothing necessarily profound—just that we said we'd keep it together as long as it felt good. I think Keith really loves playing with the trio. He works on maintaining a level of consistency with his output that also helps keep it fresh, and it's the same thing with Gary and I. Of all the other things that I do, when we come together, we zone into that—it's another area of creativity that is very special. And it seems to keep getting better. We're doing some dates in the fall in Europe and I think we'll go to Japan next May. I imagine there will probably be more recordings coming. But yeah, it's amazing. It's been going on this long, and it keeps getting better.

AAJ: Do you have any favorite bands, of the ones you've played in?

JD: Well, I played with Coltrane, for a week at least, with Rashied Ali and Alice [Coltrane] and Pharoah [Sanders]. That was really tremendous. I also worked with Thelonious Monk, which was really a challenge, and fun as well, And, you know, the Charles Lloyd Quartet, which Keith and I were both in. Working with McCoy Tyner. Joe Henderson. And Henry Grimes—we did a week at Slug's and I have a recording of that, if I can find it somewhere. That was really great. Playing and recording with Freddie Hubbard. Playing with Miles, with Herbie [Hancock] and Ron [Carter], and then again when he went into his electric period with Chick [Corea] and Dave [Holland] and Wayne [Shorter] and then moving into Michael Henderson and Gary Bartz and Keith and Chick together.

And then some of my bands. The Directions band with John Abercrombie. My Special Edition bands, with the different cast of characters who went in and out of there. The last being Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, Lonnie Plaxico, and Mick Goodrick, who's really amazing.

Jack DeJohnetteOh, I want to tell about a few more things that I've been involved with. I have a Latin project, which is a sextet. We played about two or three years ago at the Montreal Jazz Festival, when I was one of the host artists there. I did four nights with different bands. I did one night with a trio with Herbie and Dave Holland, another night with Foday Musa Suso, then with Bobby McFerren, and then the Latin project—which was kind of inspired by Don Byron's Music For Six Musicians (Blue Note, 1995). We do some of those pieces, but also some original stuff from me and from [pianist] Edsel Gomez. The band consists of two more percussionists: Luisito Quintero, on timbales and bongos, and the great Giovanni Hidalgo on the congas. Jerome Harris, again, on the electric bass, and Byron on tenor saxophone and clarinet. We did some APAP [Association of Performing Arts Presenters] tours, about eight concerts in America at the colleges, which went down really well. I haven't recorded the band yet, but it created a lot of excitement and the guys have been asking me when we'll play again. It's really exciting—a lot of drumming! We're a great percussion section. And of course Edsel was pretty wild too. It's a great collection of characters, and the chemistry's great.

I also have a duet project that I've been doing over the years with David Sancious, the keyboardist. He lives up here in Woodstock. I have a number of situations that I do where I don't rehearse anything; one is with Bobby McFerrin, and the other one is David and myself, and we just recently did a concert here in upstate New York at the West Kortright Centre. It was really fantastic, so somewhere down the line, maybe we'll put something out with that.

Anyway [laughing], I'm not doing too much, as you can tell.

AAJ: Yeah, I was going to suggest that you might want to actually start doing something instead of slacking off in upstate New York. You know, it really seems that you have more options than ever with your label to release all these projects.

JD: Yeah. It's a great time. It's funny—did you see the American Masters program on Bob Dylan?

AAJ: No Direction Home? Yes, I liked it so much I bought the DVD.

JD: One of the things that my wife and I, and some other friends who were around in those times, were saying was that it was about substance then: what have you got to say? There were a lot of areas, a lot of people pushing the boundaries of things. And we need more of that. Not just music. We need new people. We need to open up to things. Not to say that people aren't doing those things, or thinking those ways that they did then. But we need to open up the channels to get this new surge of practical-but-creative, organic ideas to make this a better place for life to exist.

Selected Discography

Jack DeJohnette Featuring Bill Frisell, The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers (Golden Beams Productions, 2006)

Trio Beyond, Saudades (ECM Records, 2006)

Miles Davis, The Cellar Door Sessions 1970 (Columbia/Legacy, 2005)

The Ripple Effect, Hybrids (Golden Beams Productions, 2005)

Jack DeJohnette/Foday Musa Suso, Music From the Hearts of the Masters (Golden Beams Productions, 2005)

Jack DeJohnette, Music in the Key of Om (Golden Beams Productions, 2005)

Carli Muñoz, Maverick (Pelosenel Q Lo Records, 2005)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, The Out-of-Towners (ECM Records, 2004)

Don Byron, Ivey-Divey (Blue Note, 2004)

Jack DeJohnette, :rarum XII: Selected Recordings (ECM Records, 2004)

Geri Allen, The Life of a Song (Telarc, 2004)

Alice Coltrane, Translinear Light (Impulse!, 2004)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette,
Up For It (ECM Records, 2003)

Miles Davis, The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions (Columbia/Legacy, 2003)

John Surman, Free and Equal (ECM Records, 2003)

Miroslav Vitous, Universal Syncopations (ECM Records, 2003)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Always Let Me Go (ECM Records, 2002)

John Surman/Jack DeJohnette, Invisible Nature (ECM Records, 2002)

Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet, The Year of the Elephant (Pi Recordings, 2002)

Miles Davis, The Complete In a Silent Way Sessions (Columbia/Legacy, 2001)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Inside Out (ECM Records, 2001)

Miles Davis, Live at the Fillmore East (March 7, 1970): It's About That Time (Columbia/Legacy, 2001)

Michael Brecker, Nearness of You: the Ballad Book (Verve, 2001)

Jack Wilkins, Reunion (Chiaroscuro Jazz, 2001)

Eliane Elias, Everything I Love (Blue Note, 2000)

Sonny Rollins, This Is What I Do (Milestone, 2000)

Antonio Faraò, Thorn (Enja, 2000)

Wadada Leo Smith, Wadada Leo Smith's Golden Quartet (Tzadik, 2000)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Whisper Not (ECM Records, 2000)

Don Byron, Romance With the Unseen (Blue Note, 1999)

Miles Davis, The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions (Columbia/Legacy, 1998)

World Saxophone Quartet Featuring Jack DeJohnette, Selim Sivad (Justin Time, 1998)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Tokyo '96 (ECM Records, 1998)

Kevin Hays, Andalucia (Blue Note, 1997)

Renee Rosnes, As We Are Now (Blue Note, 1997)

Kenny Werner Trio, A Delicate Balance (RCA Victor, 1997)

Mike Stern, Give and Take (Atlantic Jazz, 1997)

Jack DeJohnette, Oneness (ECM Records, 1997)

Chris Potter, Unspoken (Concord, 1997)

Herbie Hancock, The New Standard (Verve, 1996)

Sonny Rollins, Plus 3 (Milestone, 1996)

Gateway, In the Moment (ECM Records, 1996)

Jack DeJohnette, Dancing With Nature Spirits (ECM Records, 1996)

Michael Brecker, Tales From the Hudson (Impulse!, 1996)

Gateway, Homecoming (ECM Records, 1995)

Keith Jarrett Trio, At the Blue Note: the Complete Recordings (ECM Records, 1995)

Keith Jarrett Trio, Standards in Norway (ECM Records, 1995)

Ernie Watts, Unity (JVC, 1995)

Jack DeJohnette, Extra Special Edition (Blue Note, 1994) Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Bye Bye Blackbird (ECM Records, 1993)

Danilo Pérez, Danilo Perez (Novus, 1993)

Lyle Mays, Fictionary (Warner Bros, 1993)

Joe Lovano, Universal Language (Blue Note, 1993)

Jack DeJohnette, Music For the Fifth World (Manhattan, 1992)

Gonzalo Rubalcaba, The Blessing (Blue Note, 1991)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, The Cure (ECM Records, 1991)

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Earthwalk (Blue Note, 1991)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Tribute (ECM Records, 1990)

Jack DeJohnette, Parallel Realities (MCA, 1990)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Changeless (ECM Records, 1989)

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Audio-Visualscapes (Impulse!, 1988)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Still Live (ECM Records, 1988)

Dave Holland Trio, Triplicate (ECM Records, 1988)

David Murray/Jack DeJohnette, In Our Style (DIW, 1987)

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Irresistable Forces (MCA/Impulse!, 1987)

Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman, Song X (Geffen, 1986)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Standards Live (ECM Records, 1986)

Jack DeJohnette, Zebra (MCA, 1986)

Jack DeJohnette, The Jack DeJohnette Piano Album (Landmark, 1985)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Standards, Vol. 2 (ECM Records, 1985)

Jack DeJohnette, Works (ECM Records, 1985)

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Album Album (ECM Records, 1984)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Changes (ECM Records, 1984)

Kenny Wheeler, Double, Double You (ECM Records, 1984)

John Abercrombie, Night (ECM Records, 1984)

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, Standards, Vol. 1 (ECM Records, 1983)

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Inflation Blues (ECM Records, 1983)

Gary Peacock, Voice From the Past: Paradigm (ECM Records, 1982)

John Surman/Jack DeJohnette, The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon (ECM Records, 1981)

Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, Tin Can Alley (ECM Records, 1981)

Terje Rypdal/Miroslav Vitous/Jack DeJohnette, To Be Continued (ECM Records, 1981)

Pat Metheny, 80/81 (ECM Records, 1980)

Jack DeJohnette New Directions In Europe (ECM Records, 1980)

Jack DeJohnette, Special Edition (ECM Records, 1980

Richard Beirach, Elm (ECM Records, 1979)

George Adams, Sound Suggestions (ECM Records, 1979)

Terje Rypdal/Miroslav Vitous/Jack DeJohnette, Terje Rypdal, Miroslav Vitous, Jack DeJohnette (ECM Records, 1979)

Ralph Towner, Batik (ECM Records, 1978)

Kenny Wheeler, Deer Wan (ECM Records, 1978)

Gateway, Gateway 2 (ECM Records, 1978)

Jack DeJohnette, New Directions (ECM Records, 1978)

Jan Garbarek, Places (ECM Records, 1978)

Jack DeJohnette's Directions, New Rags (ECM Records, 1977)

Jack DeJohnette, Pictures (ECM Records, 1977)

Gary Peacock, Tales of Another (ECM Records, 1977)

Collin Walcott, Cloud Dance (ECM Records, 1976)

Kenny Wheeler, Gnu High (ECM Records, 1976)

Jack DeJohnette's Directions, Untitled (ECM Records, 1976)

Jack DeJohnette, Cosmic Chicken (Prestige, 1975)

Gateway, Gateway (ECM Records, 1975)

John Abercrombie, Timeless (ECM Records, 1975)

Steve Kuhn, Trance (ECM Records, 1975)

Jack DeJohnette, Sorcery (Prestige, 1974)

Sadao Watanabe, Round Trip (Vanguard, 1974)

Keith Jarrett/Jack DeJohnette, Ruta and Daitya (ECM Records, 1973)

Miles Davis, Black Beauty (Columbia, 1973)

Richard Davis Trio, Song For Wounded Knee (Flying Dutchman, 1973)

Miles Davis, On the Corner (Columbia, 1972)

Compost, Take Off Your Body (Columbia, 1972)

Miles Davis, Live-Evil (Columbia, 1972)

George Benson, Beyond the Blue Horizon (CTI, 1971)

Jack DeJohnette, Have You Heard? (Milestone, 1971)

Charles Lloyd, Flowering of the Original Charles Lloyd Quartet (Atlantic, 1971)

Miles Davis, At Fillmore (Columbia, 1970)

Joe Henderson, Power to the People (Milestone, 1970)

Miles Davis, Bitches Brew (Columbia, 1970)

Wayne Shorter, Super Nova (Blue Note, 1970)

Miroslav Vitous, Infinite Search (Embryo, 1970)

Chick Corea, Is (Solid State, 1970)

Charles Lloyd, In the Soviet Union (Atlantic, 1970)

Charles Lloyd, Soundtrack (Atlantic, 1970)

Jack DeJohnette, The DeJohnette Complex (Milestone, 1969)

Cedar Walton, Spectrum (Prestige, 1968)

Jackie McLean, Demon's Dance (Blue Note, 1968)

Bill Evans Trio, Live at Montreux Jazz Festival (Verve, 1968)

Charles Lloyd, In Europe (Atlantic, 1968)

Charles Lloyd, Love-in (Atlantic, 1967)

Charles Lloyd Quartet, Journey Within (Atlantic, 1967)

Charles Lloyd, Forest Flower (Atlantic, 1967)

Related Articles

Jack Johnson & Jack DeJohnette in London (Concert Review, 2005)

Jack DeJohnette Latin Project (Concert Review, 2005)

Jack DeJohnette/John Surman in Seattle (Concert Review, 2004)

Metheny, Holland, DeJohnette Play Benefit for Youth Center (Concert Review, 2004)

A Fireside Chat With Jack DeJohnette (Interview, 2003)

Meet Jack DeJohnette (Interview, 2002)

Photo Credits

First Photo: Jimmy Katz / Courtesy of ECM Records

Second Photo: Roberto Cifarelli / Phocus Agency / Courtesy of ECM Records

Photo of Trio Beyond: Roberto Cifarelli / Phocus Agency / Courtesy of ECM Records

Bottom Photo: Roberto Masotti / Courtesy of ECM Records


Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and through our retail affiliations you'll support us in the process.


Rare vinyl LPs and CDs from over 1,000 independent sellers


CDs, Vinyl, Blu-Ray DVDS, Prime membership, Alexa, SONOS and more


Specializing in high resolution and CD-quality downloads


Specializing in music, movies and video games


Marketplace for new, used, and vintage instruments and gear