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Jack DeJohnette: Music We Are & America

Jeff Stockton By

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Jack DeJohnette/John Patitucci/Danilo Perez
Music We Are
Kindred Rhythm
2009


Jack DeJohnette/Wadada Leo Smith
America
Tzadik
2009




It's been a while since Jack DeJohnette made a CD as a leader that fit so perfectly into the jazz genre as Music We Are, a straightforward recording of his trio with pianist Danilo Perez and bassist John Patitucci. The three have known each other for years and the accompanying 20-minute behind-the-scenes DVD makes it clear that these men have deep respect for one another and enjoy an easy rapport. DeJohnette may be the album's primary composer and spiritual authority, but it's Perez who contributes the most memorable pieces: his high-energy "Cobilla" as well as the traditional "Panama Viejo," which epitomizes the beauty this trio is capable of creating. Music We Are takes full advantage of studio technology; solos sometimes defy the math and DeJohnette occasionally plays melodica while drumming, but this trio offers a special combination of melodic writing, virtuosity and the true joy of playing as a group.

Although less common than drum and saxophone duos, the percussive sound of a brass instrument may be even more compatible with drums and the physical reality of playing a trumpet means that more space for the drums will be created around the notes: lips need a break once in awhile. While legendary AACM trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith creates sonic space, DeJohnette takes advantage of the polyrhythmic freedom that might not have been afforded by a wind instrumentalist. America is the realization of an idea first proposed in 1979 and over the last 30 years the mastery and creative spirit of these two legends of jazz has only grown richer. Smith's musical vocabulary is weighty, severe and arresting, while DeJohnette is intricate and elaborate without showing off. This music nods to tradition through an exchange of ideas and shared artistic exploration and delivers the essential quality of jazz music: elemental interplay and dialogue. America pulls off a difficult trick: just as it's summing up (with tributes to Miles Davis and Ed Blackwell), it's breaking new ground in melody, rhythm and tone.


Tracks and Personnel

Music We Are

Tracks: Tango African; Earth Prayer; Seventh D., 1st Movement; Seventh D., 2nd Movement; Soulful Ballad; Earth Speaks; Cobilla; Panama Viejo; White; Ode to MJQ; Michael.

Personnel: Jack DeJohnette: drums, melodica; John Patitucci: acoustic and electric bass; Danilo Perez: piano, keyboards.

America

Tracks: On America Parts 1, 2, 3; Red Trumpet; John Brown's Fort; Ed Blackwell, the Blue Mountain Sun Drummer; Rabi'a's Unconditional Love, a Spiritual Mystery of the Heart; Masnavi: The Falcon and the Owls.

Personnel: Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; flugelhorn; Jack DeJohnette: drums


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