Meet the Artist Series: Jack DeJohnette

Meet The Artist series is designed to give DC Jazz Festival audiences up close & personal opportunities to hear from and interact with artists off the bandstand.  Such programs, part of DCJF’s humanities component, are a vital effort in our goal of increasing the audience for jazz and further demystifying the music for audience participants.  The Jack DeJohnette Trio with Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison perform June 13th at the Abramson Family Auditorium- NYU Washington, DC. The interview will be conducted by jazz historian W. A. Brower.

Jack DeJohnette Just Put Out The Best Jazz Record Of 2015

Jack DeJohnette is of both Chicago and the AACM. In the early ’60s, he was a South Side pianist studying at Wilson Junior College while augmenting theory with downtown “breakfast jams.” Switching to drums in 1963, he moved to NYC and hooked up with Charles Lloyd, whose 1966 live album Forest Flower sold a million copies. When Lloyd crashed the Fillmore West in ’67, DeJohnette was at the center of an as-yet-unnamed fusion scene, eventually signing on with newly electric Miles Davis to replace Tony Williams (and bringing along fellow Lloyd alumnus Keith Jarrett, thus preserving for posterity Jarrett’s brief shred-tastic mastery of the Fender Rhodes). DeJohnette was the funkiest drummer Miles ever employed: For proof, proceed directly to five stabs at “Go Ahead John” from the 1970 Jack Johnson sessions. Continue reading on

International Jazz Day ’15

Jazz is a musical art form embraced all over the world. For more than a century, jazz has helped soothe and uplift the souls of millions of people in all corners of the globe. International Jazz Day is a means to highlight and leverage the unifying attributes of this music through celebratory events and programs worldwide on April 30 of each year.  A pre celebration of the International Jazz Day, April 10th at 10:00PM EST where PBS will broadcast a one-hour television special in the US featuring the first annual International Jazz Day All-Star Concert!

50 Years On, Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians Influences Jazz

Muhal Richard Abrams, the restlessly inventive pianist and composer, is a next-step thinker, not the type to rhapsodize about the past. But he has lately found cause to reflect on a time, 50 years ago on the South Side of Chicago, when he began to mobilize his peers in pursuit of originality and self-determination, ending up with a collective called the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. Continue reading on The New York

Made in Chicago: Brief review of select release

Jack DeJohnette, “Made in Chicago” (ECM). A disc few of us ever thought we’d hear in the 21st century. More than a half century ago, Jack DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill were classmates at Wilson Junior College in Chicago. They’d jam back then and prepare for the astonishing careers to come – DeJohnette first with Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band and Mitchell and Threadgill to follow with Abrams. All were involved when Abrams first created the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1965, one of the most important seedbeds for the avant-garde in jazz history. Continue reading on Buffalo

Newport Jazz Festival 2015

Newport Jazz Festival has just announce Jack DeJohnette’s performance. He will be presenting his latest album Made in Chicago, Saturday August 1st. More information here.

Made In Chicago album release celebration

Join Made In Chicago album release celebration. Jack DeJohnette will be with Muhal Richard Abrams and Henry Threadgill next Monday February 23rd at 6:30PM at SubCulture, 45 Bleecker Street New York, NY 10012. The artists will discuss their musical history and the making of the album with writer Tom Staudter, interspersed with album excerpts and video. You can book your ticket here.

A Conversation with Jack DeJohnette

Legendary jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette will give a live interview for NYU at “SubCulture” on 45 Bleecker Street. You are invited to experience and get to know one of the most consistently inventive drummers in jazz history. Having played with Miles Davis, Coltrane, Charles Loyd and many more, Jack DeJohnette has a lot to tell. Open to the public, $10 admission, hosted by Dr. David Schroeder, director of NYU Jazz Studies.

The Telegraph album review: ‘rewarding’

In Britain, DeJohnette’s live album with fellow Chicagoan innovators Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill and Larry Gray is warmly greeted in the The Telegraph: “The range of expression these five players draw from their instruments is astonishing, particularly in Roscoe Mitchell’s ‘This’, where Baroque and bass flutes, piano and bowed double bass pace quietly in stately and sombre patterns. In Abrams’ ‘Jack 5′, the hint of blues that so often lies behind the ‘transcendental’ strain in black American jazz comes movingly into focus.” Learn more here.

Made in Chicago

With Made In Chicago, Jack DeJohnette celebrates a reunion with old friends. More than 50 years ago, DeJohnette, Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill were all classmates at Wilson Junior College on Chicago’s Southside, pooling energies and enthusiasms in jam sessions. Shortly thereafter Jack joined Muhal Richard Abrams’ Experimental Band, and Roscoe and Henry soon followed him. When Abrams co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in 1965, DeJohnette, Mitchell and Threadgill were involved from the outset, presenting concerts and contributing to each other’s work under the AACM umbrella. DeJohnette then relocated to New York, but remained a frequent visitor and collaborator.

Invited to present a program of his own choosing in the context of the Chicago Jazz Festival, Jack DeJohnette brought his old colleagues together for a concert at Millennium Park in August 2013, completing the group with the addition of bassist/cellist Larry Gray. This live recording, documenting their first performance as a quintet, was mixed by DeJohnette and Manfred Eicher at New York’s Avatar Studio. The album is issued as the AACM begins its 50th year anniversary year, and is both a powerful contemporary statement and a reminder of the wealth of great diverse music and innovative approaches to playing, writing and arranging which the organization has introduced over the years.

In the liner notes, Jack gives much of the credit to Muhal Richard Abrams, for leading by example in the early days. “Muhal’s door was always open. He wanted to explore different ways of composing and improvising, and then demonstrated to me, Roscoe, Joseph [Jarman] and Malachi [Favors] those different possibilities. It felt natural, and we saw there were other ways to express ourselves through improvisation. Most importantly, we began to recognize something in each other.” Muhal emphasizes that “it wasn’t a process of encouragement. Everyone came ready to be an individual. That’s all it took. And it’s quite strong to be amongst people who want to pursue their individualism and accept that realization…. It felt special and unique because everyone was there for the right reasons, and everyone’s efforts seemed synchronized.” Henry Threadgill notes that “We gravitated toward people with a certain kind of voice and vision…When you’re young you like to look for people who want to try the things you want to try, to find some kind of comradeship.” Roscoe Mitchell observes that the work, and the mutual inspiration, is a continuing process: “Every time I get together with musicians from the AACM it’s like we are just picking up from wherever we left off. I think you can achieve great things in music by having these longstanding relationships with people. If you told me back then that this thing never stops, I might not have believed you. But now I see that’s really true.”

Along the way Mitchell, Threadgill, Abrams and DeJohnette himself have changed the history of the music, with many landmark recordings and volatile concerts. Though younger than these meanwhile iconic players, bassist and cellist Larry Gray now also qualifies as a veteran of the Chicago jazz scene.  Some of his earliest recordings were with Roscoe Mitchell and Jodie Christian, and he grew up absorbing the innovations of the AACM along with a wide scope of jazz and classical music and more. He first played with Jack in the early 1990s with another set of legendary Chicago soloists including Von Freeman and Ira Sullivan.

 Made In Chicago features compositions by Roscoe Mitchell (“Chant” and “This”), Muhal Richard Abrams (“Jack 5”), Jack DeJohnette (“Museum of Time”), and Henry Threadgill (“Leave Don’t Go Away”), as well as the collective improvisation “Ten Minutes”.  

The album marks ECM debuts for Muhal Richard Abrams, Henry Threadgill and Larry Gray. Roscoe Mitchell’s ECM discography includes albums with the Art Ensemble of Chicago (Nice Guys, Full Force, Urban Bushmen, The Third Decade, and Tribute To Lester) as well as with his Note Factory band (Nine To Get Ready, Far Side) and with the US/UK Transatlantic Art Ensemble which he co-led with Evan Parker (Composition/Improvisation Nos. 1, 2 & 3, and Boustrophedon).

 Jack DeJohnette, recently named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, has recorded prolifically for ECM since 1971. His first disc for the label was Ruta & Daitya, a duet with Keith Jarrett. Numerous recordings with Jarrett since then include many albums with the popular ‘Standards Trio’ completed by Gary Peacock (highlights include the six-CD set At The Blue Note, and, most recently, Somewhere).  Jack has led a series of distinguished groups of his own at ECM beginning with Directions, followed by New Directions and Special Edition. Special Edition’s recordings, with line-ups including David Murray, Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman, John Purcell, Howard Johnson and Baikida Carroll, were reprised in ECM’s Old & New Masters box set series in 2012 to great critical acclaim.  DeJohnette also co-led the Gateway trio with John Abercrombie and Dave Holland (albums Gateway, Gateway 2, Homecoming, In The Moment), and has recorded with frequent musical partner John Surman (The Amazing Adventures of Simon Simon, Invisible Nature, Free And Equal).  DeJohnette’s unique solo album Pictures stands as a classic amongst the early ECM recordings. He has furthermore appeared as drummer on numerous ECM sessions, including albums by Kenny Wheeler, Collin Walcott, John Abercrombie, Pat Metheny, George Adams, Jan Garbarek, Terje Rypdal, Gary Peacock, Bill Connors, Ralph Towner and Mick Goodrick.

Album Release Next January 24th.