Something astonishing happened on Halloween night in Seattle five years ago: Jack DeJohnette took the stage with Bill Frisell. An event so unthinkably natural had only occurred once before, at a recording session with Don Byron two years earlier. This album, recorded at the Earshot Jazz Festival, exists as testimony that when two mammoth figures join together, time can develop into something quite grand.
Taking up their instruments on the starting title track, the drummer and guitarist at once open up to each other, combining in a pure force that reaches transcendental levels immediately. Seconds into this newborn oasis, miniscule sounds creep from the wiry girth of Frisell's dirty rock guitar chords, and cymbals shatter among the broiling, controlled abandon of DeJohnette's drums. Electronic effects emit a glow around them or shoot jaggedly into the ether.
While some musicians who try to achieve this sort of sound get too caught up in it to break free, DeJohnette and Frisell fluctuate the atmosphere drastically throughout the album. The guitarist at times reaches out toward one of his melodic jaunts, but a massive percussion propolis seizes him back into the rhythmic hive. Sound shards shift constantly into new geometric formations, helped by the post-production artistry of DeJohnette's sound engineer, Ben Surman. A constant pitter-patter meshes with ghostly echoes while Frisell and DeJohnette play effusively on their instruments, upholding the invisible structure.
Quieting down for the last track, Trane's "After the Rain, enchanted by Frisell's sparkling effects, DeJohnette plays piano. His glistening arpeggios lull the audience and the elephant back into the comfortable sleep state where dreams linger like distant memories from lives lived long ago.
The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers...; Cat and Mouse; Entranced Androids; The Garden of Chew-Man-Chew; Otherworldly Dervishes; Through the Warphole; Storm Clouds and Mist; Cartune Riots; Ode to South Africa; One Tooth Shuffle; After the Rain.
Jack DeJohnette: drums, percussion, vocals, piano; Bill Frisell: guitar, banjo; Ben Surman: additional percussion.