Friday February 03, 2017
From The Austin Chronicle
Drum Legend Jack DeJohnette Returns to Austin
We talk to the jazz titan about Coltrane, his latest album, and more
By: Michael Toland
Originally trained as a classical pianist, Jack DeJohnette, 74, instead became a certified jazz legend on drums. Playing with John Coltrane and working with his native Chicago’s pioneering Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, he moved to New York in 1966 to work with Charles Lloyd and ended up leading the percussive corps on Miles Davis’ landmark fusion records Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson, and On the Corner. Mind-boggling collaborations followed: Sonny Rollins, Ornette Coleman, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Pat Metheny, Freddie Hubbard, Stan Getz, etc., ad infinitum.
Ranging from free jazz to New Age – which net his only Grammy on 2008’s Peace Time – to avant funk, his solo artistry began with 1969’s DeJohnette Complex and now encompasses nearly 40 albums across a half-century. Recorded for Germany’s ECM Records, with whom the drummer has a relationship stretching back four decades, latest release In Movement pairs the bandleader alongside the scions of two old friends: saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, and bassist/electronicist Matthew Garrison, son of John Coltrane’s longtime bassist Jimmy Garrison. Alternating languid melodies with vibrant group improvisations, the trio swings and soars through a program that includes songs from Ravi’s father and Earth, Wind & Fire, alongside originals.
A 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master, DeJohnette spoke by phone from his home in New York’s Hudson River Valley on the occasion of his first Austin date since gigs with Miles Davis at the Armadillo World Headquarters back in the Seventies.
Austin Chronicle: You’ve known Ravi and Matthew since they were children. You first played with them 20 years ago, and the trio’s now been a working band for a few years. What’s it like working with guys you’ve known since before they could play?
Jack DeJohnette: It feels great! They’re taking care of business, and that’s why I’m playing with them. They come from a lineage; I played with their parents, so that continues in present day. Matthew is like my godson. He lived with me for a number of years. Ravi’s really close, like another family member. Musically, personally, spiritually, and worldview-wise, we’re on similar wavelengths. So the idea of us coming together was a natural one and it’s grown that way ever since.
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