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Jack DeJohnette

Jack DeJohnette is an NEA Jazz Master

Born in Chicago in 1942, Jack De Johnette is widely regarded as one of jazz music's greatest drummers. Music appreciation flourished in De Johnette's family. He studied classical piano from age four until fourteen before beginning to play drums with his high school concert band.and taking private piano lessons at the Chicago conservatory of music. De Johnette credits his uncle, Roy l. Wood Sr., who was one of the most popular jazz DJ's in the South side of Chicago, later vice president of the National Network of Black Broadcasters, as the person who initially inspired him to pursue music.

In his early years on the Chicago scene, he led his own groups and was equally in demand as a pianist and as a drummer. He played R & B, hard bop, and avant-garde and was active with the experimentalists of the AACM in its early days, with the likes of founder Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell and Joseph Jarman. In 1966, he drummed alongside Rashied Ali in the John Coltrane Quintet. International recognition came with his tenure in the Charles Lloyd Quartet, one of the first jazz groups to receive cross- over attention, also alerting the world to Keith Jarrett's skills.

Jack De Johnette has collaborated with most major figures in jazz history. Some of the great talents he has worked with are John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Sun Ra, Jackie McLean, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, George Benson, Stanley Turrentine, Ron Carter, Lee Morgan, Charles Lloyd, Herbie Hancock, Dave Holland, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter and Eddie Harris, who is responsible for convincing De Johnette to stick with drums because he heard De Johnette's natural talent.

It was in 1968 that De Johnette joined Miles Davis's group in time for the epochal upheaval marked by "Bitches Brew," an album that changed the direction of jazz. In his autobiography, Miles Davis said, "Jack De Johnette gave me a deep groove that I just loved to play over." Jarrett soon followed De Johnette into the Davis group, and the drummer's first ECM recording, the duet “Rutya and Daitya” was made in 1971. Working with Miles also brought about collaborations with John McLaughlin, Chick Corea and Dave Holland.

In 1968 he recorded his first album as a leader on the Milestone label, called “The De Johnette Complex”, where Jack played melodica along with his mentor Roy Haynes on drums. In the early 70's he recorded “Have You Heard” in Japan and two albums for Prestige, called “Sorcery” and “Cosmic Chicken.” These early sessions united Jack with Gary Peacock, Bennie Maupin, Stanley Cowell, Miroslav Vitous, Eddie Gomez, Alex Foster and Peter Warren.

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Liner Notes

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Raul De Souza's life can be seen as a one-of-a-kind story. Indeed, it would make a perfect novel or film script. It may not be as big a tragedy as 'Round Midnight or Bird, but it has drama, love, adventure, and great music. Picture this: a poor child grows up in Brazil working as a weaver and practicing trombone in conversations with a buffalo in the jungle, dreaming of someday becoming an internationally famous jazzman. Suddenly, this dream ...


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Read "The Electric Years Box Set" reviewed by Mike Jurkovic

In a year that has brought us a true bounty of previously unheard majesty including Evenings at the Village Gate: John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy (Impulse!), and Bill Evans; Treasures: Solo, Trio & Orchestra Recordings from Denmark (1965-1969), (Elemental Music) it is only fitting that Miles Davis get his due. And in a very, very big way. Seared into modern memory, modern art, the music presented on the gloriously massive, eleven LP set Miles Davis: The Electric Years ...

Album Review

Jack DeJohnette: Sorcery

Read "Sorcery" reviewed by Rob Garratt

Which Jack DeJohnette is best known? The subtle sticksmith at the heart of Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio, perhaps? Probably the heavyweight hitter driving electric-era Miles Davis' '70s sonic brew. Maybe the percussive upstart propelling Charles Lloyd to crossover flower-power fame? Or even the fearless bandleader behind the ever-thrilling Special Edition band ... At age 81, DeJohnette can (still) fairly claim to be the most in-demand jazz drummer on the planet. But even the most studious acolyte ...

Album Review

Jack DeJohnette: Sorcery

Read "Sorcery" reviewed by Scott Gudell

Jack DeJohnette gets around. The Chicago born drummer was drawn to R&B and bebop in the late 1950s and eventually toyed with a more avant-garde jazz sound when he spent some time with the esoteric Sun Ra. It seems like DeJohnette played in the big leagues almost from the beginning since, by the time he moved to New York City in the mid-1960s, he was teaming up with other monsters of jazz such as Keith Jarrett and Charles Lloyd. Several ...

Album Review

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Trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Kenny Wheeler's exalted Gnu High, first released in 1976, is one of two albums with which ECM launches its audiophile vinyl reissue series, Luminessence, on April 28, 2023. The Luminessence mission statement is to showcase albums that have “changed perceptions of creative music making." And few would dispute this summation of the first batch of releases (listed below). Some of the albums will be presented in facsimile editions, others--such as Gnu High--in gatefold ...

Liner Notes

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Readers Poll Results

Your Favorite Living Jazz Drummers

Read "Your Favorite Living Jazz Drummers" reviewed by Michael Ricci

All About Jazz member votes were tabulated and this list represents our favorite living jazz drummers. Fully transparent and easily verifiable, All About Jazz's living drummers poll was conducted during the 2022 calendar year running from January to November. We would like to thank every member who participated in creating this impressive list (200 total!) for the next generation of jazz enthusiasts to discover. 1 Jack DeJohnette2Brian Blade3Steve Gadd4Roy Haynes5Peter Erskine6Jeff Tain Watts7Antonio Sanchez8Billy Cobham9Terri Lyne Carrington10Vinnie Colaiuta11Bill ...

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Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Craft Recordings


Gnu High

ECM Records


The Electric Years...

Columbia Records / VMP Anthology


Every Note Is True

Blue Note Records


The Emerald Duets

TUM Records


The Patriot Act

From: The Emerald Duets
By Jack DeJohnette

Ode to South Africa

From: The Elephant Sleeps But Still...
By Jack DeJohnette

Tango African

From: Music We Are
By Jack DeJohnette

Ocean Wave

From: Music From The Hearts Of The...
By Jack DeJohnette

Tango Africaine

From: Live at Yoshi's 2010
By Jack DeJohnette

Sonny Light

From: Sound Travels
By Jack DeJohnette



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