Jack DeJohnette: Sound Travels (Shock)

 |   |  1 min read

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   Jazz articles index

Manfred Schoof Quintet: Resonance (ECM)

Manfred Schoof Quintet: Resonance (ECM)

Here is further proof that the past is a different country: this double disc pulls together tracks from Schoof albums of the mid to late Seventies when the contract of jazz was very different.... > Read more

PAT METHENY INTERVIEWED (2020): Him and Ornette dancing in their heads

PAT METHENY INTERVIEWED (2020): Him and Ornette dancing in their heads

After more than a decade as the golden guitarist at ECM cracking commercially successful albums (by jazz standards), selling out concerts and winning critical acclaim, Pat Metheny was itching for... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

PAUL SIMON'S AMERICAN TUNE AND ITS MELODIC ORIGINS (2019): The distant past informing the damaged present

PAUL SIMON'S AMERICAN TUNE AND ITS MELODIC ORIGINS (2019): The distant past informing the damaged present

As Bob Dylan famously said (and obviously wasn't the first to expres this sentiment)., "amateurs borrow, professionals steal". It's what you do with what you take. Case in point,... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . .  HAYSEED DIXIE: The wacky world of hillbilly humour

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HAYSEED DIXIE: The wacky world of hillbilly humour

The remote community of Deer Lick Holler in the Appalachians isn't on the way to anywhere, so there aren't many outside influences. It's where musicologists go to study authentic hillbilly music --... > Read more