This album was a surprise when it was released for it features drummer Jack DeJohnette exclusively on piano and synthesizer in a trio with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Freddie Waits. DeJohnette on a couple of the tunes was among the very first pianists to really capture the sound of Thelonious Monk. Other selections are more in his own style and he displays a strong technique that does not sound like the work of a drummer who is moonlighting.
The final version of drummer/composer Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition bands sports a unique sound, on the verge of M-Base, and artfully driven due to saxophonists Greg Osby and Gary Thomas. Their tart sweet sounds are as much a part of the identity of this group as anything, and DeJohnette adds his own personal brand of funk and swing to the proceeding, making for an exciting and vital original music. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico, straight off the bandstand with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, keeps things briskly moving along, while Michael Cain plays a lot of acoustic piano, and some modified electric keyboards, to further separate this Special Edition from the others.
For more than 25 years, Anouar Brahem has taken his oud all over far off lands. A melodic impressionist and a for ever inspired improvisor, the Tunisian musician has above all toppled the barriers which separate genres…
Pictures (1977) is an intriguing offshoot of drummer Jack DeJohnette's work with guitarist John Abercrombie in the Gateway Trio and other groups. A series of lightly colored aural collages that also feature DeJohnette on organ and piano with Abercrombie playing electric and acoustic, it conjures spare, plaintive moods without ever seeming static or New Age-y. The styles vary, ranging from Spanish folk to lyrical fusion to splintered string effects reminiscent of experimental British guitar great Derek Bailey. DeJohnette, who has recorded on the piano in a more straightforward context to less satisfying effect, succeeds in making us see as well as hear his compositions.
This is a great album, with some great ballads, bebop, Latin and Eugene's unique fusion style. He is a world talent, and certainly the most respected to come out of Hong-Kong. I've been fortunate to see him play live many times, and never been disappointed. Here though some of his best his brought out of him, playing with truly world class musicians.
The addition of Bobby McFerrin to drummer Jack DeJohnette's group should have been a definite plus; the singer can do so much with his voice, from substituting for a string bass to using his falsetto like a horn. This program of mostly originals, however, not only lacks more than one or two strong melodies, but also fails to have real development, particularly on the selections that include McFerrin. Performances often start in what could just as well be the middle and end inconclusively, with many of the pieces being little more than funky riffs for the rhythm section. Despite a few strong moments (mostly from pianist Michael Cain), only "Seventh D" and "Summertime" (both instrumentals) are worth hearing a second time.
Music We Are may appear, on the surface, to be yet another in a long line of piano trio records released every year—not that there's anything wrong with that—but in the hands of DeJohnette, pianist Danilo Perez and bassist John Patitucci, the music not only transcends the expectations of the format, but stretches the boundaries of music, plain and simple. Eclectic and esoteric, it's an album that celebrates the cross-pollination of music from the earth's four corners while revering the jazz tradition that permits music to be made on such fertile ground, with abstract classicism, tinges of Gamelan and folkloric innocence intersecting and driving the music to unexpected and joyous places.
For Keith Jarrett, this extremely satisfying concert with the Standards Trio on two CDs is a personal landmark, the first for-the-record sign that he had recovered from the chronic fatigue syndrome that laid him low for three years in the late 1990s. Indeed, by the time this Paris gig took place, he had come all the way back — his technical facilities intact (a handful of smeared notes aside), his inventiveness bubbling over. Old cohorts Gary Peacock (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums) are back, too, regenerating their propulsive, swinging, collective E.S.P. at will.