Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels (Shock)

Jack DeJohnette (with Bobby McFerrin): Oneness
Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels (Shock)

The great jazz drummer -- who turns 70 this year -- shows no signs of either slowing down or repeating himself, and on the evidence of his performance of Miles Davis' tribute to Jack Johnson last year, his energy levels and creativity are also undiminished.

This gentle album finds him exploring Latin styles (with singer/bassist Esmeralda Spalding), working with songwriter and keyboard player Bruce Hornsby (who plays with the Grateful Dead these days) for the country-funky jazz of Dirty Ground, and inviting in Bobby McFerrin for wordless vocals and vocalese on one song (the gentle Oneness).

Also present are his fine touring band which includes hot pianist Jason Moran and guitarist Lionel Louke.

It's a curious album in that it constantly shifts its ground so Dirty Ground is placed between the subtle Salsa for Luisito and the  angular instrumental New Muse which nods to Mexican music and the ethereal (in Tim Ries' soprano playing). The tropical-influenced Sonny Light pays tribute to Sonny Rollins' bright and playful pieces in the same manner but, while pleasant and allowing DeJohnette to play some oblique piano, adds little to the genre.

The title track is engrossing, a minimalist interplay between Loueke's tickling guitar and the rhythm section as Spalding adds discreetly swooping bass. But at less than two minutes you wonder, why? It sounds as if it could have gone somewhere, but . . .

Only on the eight minute Indigo Dreamscape do the players really stretch, but it is also restrained and never hits the energy levels they are capable of live.

DeJohnette's piano ballad at the end however is a wistfully romantic closing piece with subtle references to old spirituals and hymns. 

There is impeccable musicianship to admire here and some sublime moments. But it is an album you might want to like a lot more than you can, and may often feel shortchanged by.

Interested in more by Jack DeJohnette, check out these albums with pianist Keith Jarrett.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Various artists: Bossa Jazz (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

Various artists: Bossa Jazz (Soul Jazz/Southbound)

The highly regarded reissue label Soul Jazz -- see here for former treats -- again delves into Brazilian sounds of the late Sixties/early Seventies for a double disc which includes famous names... > Read more

COLIN HEMMINGSEN PROFILED (2012): With his heart in both camps

COLIN HEMMINGSEN PROFILED (2012): With his heart in both camps

In many countries, what Colin Hemmingsen has done all his life would not be considerd so unusual. But in New Zealand he has been a rarity, a musician who has had successful careers in both... > Read more

New Elsewhere

Buenos Aires, Argentina: A users' guide

Buenos Aires, Argentina: A users' guide

The bronze statue in the museum towers over us. It is twice life-size and the national hero has a hand on his heart, his eyes looking to the distance. At his feet are the faithful, young and... > Read more

20,000 DAYS  ON EARTH, a film by IAIN FORSYTH and JANE POLLARD (Madman DVD)

20,000 DAYS ON EARTH, a film by IAIN FORSYTH and JANE POLLARD (Madman DVD)

During a recent Q&A session after a screening of this film about him, Nick Cave mentioned in passing that a sequence involving Bad Seed/Dirty Three/Grinderman band member Warren Ellis wasn't... > Read more