94

Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
With 2012 barely underway, it looks like it's going to be a year to remember for drum legend Jack DeJohnette. The renowned rhythmic force behind classic recordings from Miles Davis, Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett—and numerous notable projects of his own—will receive some well-deserved recognition when he's inducted into the National Endowment for the Arts' Jazz Master Fellowship in January. Crossing the globe to bring his music to admirers around the world, 2012 also marks his 70th birthday. Putting him at an age when many people rest on their laurels and look back at their accomplishments with pride, DeJohnette keeps looking forward as he creates music that jazz fans can look forward to hearing.

Yet another cause for celebration, Sound Travels, is an easy-to-digest, cross-stylistic journey featuring some A-list players. DeJohnette's objective was "to make something that would make people move, to make them relax and forget their troubles." He wanted to "bring a smile" with these songs, which highlight his compositional and performance skills (on piano and drums), and there is, indeed, plenty to smile about.

DeJohnette bookends the album with two beautiful solo piano performances—the Zen-like "Enter Here" and Abdullah Ibrahim-inspired "Home"—but works with an all-star lineup elsewhere, with a few special guests invited to the party. Pianist Jason Moran makes an appearance on "Indigo Dreamscape," first heard on the leader's Parallel Realities (MCA, 1990), while beyond-category vocalist Bobby McFerrin brings his inimitable vocals to the serene and absorbing "Oneness," and Bruce Hornsby drops in to sing on an instantly likeable, odd-metered roots-rock number co-written with DeJohnette, "Dirty Ground."

While these high profile guests will likely bring some greater attention to the project, the band on hand needs no help delivering quality music. The two horns that appear at various times throughout the album—trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and saxophonist Tim Ries—add volumes as individuals, prove complementary in terms of blend and balance, and provide contrast in solo styles ("New Muse"). Other strong contributions come from guitarist Lionel Loueke, who puts an African slant on a calypso written in honor of Sonny Rollins ("Sonny Light"), and percussionist Luisito Quintero, who seasons the music with Latin spices ("Salsa for Luisito") and adds to the jam-based vibe on the brief title track. Bassist Esperanza Spalding anchors the group with her buoyant bottom end, but it's her angelically soulful pipes that may garner more attention, as she wordlessly glides along on "Salsa for Luisito."

DeJohnette's drum and piano work is more functional than flashy, reflecting the big-picture wisdom he's always shown, but his taste and talent are always apparent. While the title of this record may or may not have been an intentional double entendre, Sound Travels rings true; whether viewed as a globe-trotting aural odyssey or comfortable sojourn, both qualities make for an enjoyable listen.

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).

Title: Sound Travels | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: eOne Music


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Whispers on the Wind CD/LP/Track Review Whispers on the Wind
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman CD/LP/Track Review Shropshire Lads: Songs to the Poems of AE Housman
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 23, 2017
Read Heptagon CD/LP/Track Review Heptagon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 23, 2017
Read ON Tour CD/LP/Track Review ON Tour
by John Kelman
Published: October 22, 2017
Read On a Distant Shore CD/LP/Track Review On a Distant Shore
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Heroes: Guitar Duets
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2017
Read "Mannequins" CD/LP/Track Review Mannequins
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "Out On The Coast" CD/LP/Track Review Out On The Coast
by Joe Gatto
Published: January 17, 2017
Read "What Time Is It?" CD/LP/Track Review What Time Is It?
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 6, 2017
Read "Festen" CD/LP/Track Review Festen
by John Sharpe
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "Allied Forces" CD/LP/Track Review Allied Forces
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "The Catfish" CD/LP/Track Review The Catfish
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 15, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.