Thursday, 22 November 2012

Jack DeJohnette

A works outing last Friday to see The Jack DeJohnette Group playing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall as part of the London Jazz Festival.
Mr DeJohnette is now age 70 and has been a central figure in jazz since the mid-sixties having played with Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Pat Metheny and many more, as well as fronting his own bands. He also plays the piano and is an accomplished composer. For this concert he had a five-piece band comprising himself (drums), Don Byron (saxophone, clarinet), Marvin Sewell (electric guitar), George Colligan (keyboards & piano), and Jerome Harris (bass). They played six of DeJohnette's compositions in a concert lasting two hours.
This was proper jazz played by accomplished musicians, combining different idioms from free jazz to straight twelve-bar swing. They got us off to a slightly alarming start by going for an arragement with no apparent key or time signature but, as with performances of Shakespeare, within a few minutes your brain adjusts to the language and it coalesces beautifully. Hotcha! An unusual element was Mr Sewell the guitarist's use of a Stratocaster and playing slide, which is not something I've seen before in a jazz combo. Mr Harris the bass player was pretty nifty but without feeling the need to be flash. Mr Colligan had too many keyboards, but he's pretty good and was best on the piano.
The concert was recorded by BBC Radio 3 and was broadcast last Monday 19 November. It is available via the BBC iPlayer gubbins. Sadly, they've edited it down to only three songs and one hour, and the mix could be better but I guess we'll let 'em off given the various constraints under which the jazz element at Radio 3 has to work.
Promotional video for Jack's latest album below:

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