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Jack DeJohnette: Oneness

Glenn Astarita By

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Drummer Jack DeJohnette has been called "The Wizard" by many jazz afficionados. His complex and uncanny ability to sound like two or more drummers has earned him much acclaim over the years. His discogrophy is impressive: Supporting Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett's "Standards Trio", Gateway with John Abercrombie and Dave Holland, numerous recordings as a solo artist and sideman equates to an impressive resume.

DeJohnette has recorded extensively for Manfred Eicher's much heralded (or maligned) ECM label. Eicher produces all of the ECM recordings which feature large doses of reverb and an overall cathedral-like sound. Eicher has come under fire in the past for his supposed dictatorship in and out of the studio; however, the ECM catalogue houses an impressive array of distinctive jazz recordings. DeJohnette has been one of the mainstays over the years. He has recorded several albums with most notably his "Second and Extra Special Edition" bands which featured the likes of Arthur Blythe, David Murray and John Purcell. DeJohnette is also a suitor of young talent. He introduced the jazz world to young sax phenoms Gary Thomas and Greg Osby.

After several cutting edge recordings for ECM he switched labels several years ago and recorded two mediocre recordings. Returning to ECM with last year's Dancing With Natures Spirits, DeJohnette displayed world music tendencies. His brand new follow up to that recording is called Oneness.

Oneness features Mike Cain on piano, Jerome Harris bass and guitar and Don Alias on percussion. Oneness is an ensemble recording, contrary to last year's Nature Spirits. DeJohnette's new recording may be an extension of his work with Keith Jarrett. The entire CD takes on an airy and ethereal mood. Mike Cain sparkles throughout. His chord structures and single note runs are reminiscent of Jarrett. He also directs the band here. While not a Jarrett clone and a talent to be reckoned with, Cain's sensitive touch creates a sense of space.

DeJohnette and Alias provide unobtrusive support and Jerome Harris' bass remains in the forefront. The first four cuts graduate into ethereal soundscapes with DeJohnette laying down the lightly swinging rhythmic structures. The fifth cut "From the Heart" is 27 minutes in length. Here, we find the pace picking up a bit and the boys start to swing. Oneness as the title may implicate, supplies a sense of inner-peace. The band at times, sounds playfull. Despite most of the deep passages and the occasional ambiance, this band is having fun. Witty time changes, fluctuating tempos and some foot tapping swing make for a wonderful narrative. The trip is well worth it. Not overly pompous or self indulgent as some anti-ECM folks would have you imagine.

DeJohnnette fans may yearn for something more; however, this recording exemplifies the intospective musician, not the drummer. Yes, Jack DeJohnette is a world class musician.


Title: Oneness | Year Released: 1997 | Record Label: Strand Records


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