Jack DeJohnette: Special Legends Edition Chicago Muhal Richard Abrams, Larry Gray, Roscoe Mitchell, and Henry Threadgill
Chicago native, drummer, composer and recent NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette is duly famous for some remarkably fruitful associations over the years—working under the leadership of legends like reedist Charles Lloyd (who headlines the Pritzker Pavilion on Friday), trumpeter Miles Davis, and, most enduringly, pianist Keith Jarrett. He’s also released more than thirty albums as a leader during his vaunted career, but few players of DeJohnette’s caliber have remained so committed to an ensemble-oriented aesthetic. Some of his best records surfaced in the late 70s and early 80s with a shifting collective called Special Edition that masterfully showcased his excellence as a composer in channeling multiple styles—reggae, blues, world music, funk, Latin modes.
While he’s been a member of Jarrett’s trio with bassist Gary Peacock for a quarter of a century (including the group’s new album Somewhere), on his own the drummer’s creative restlessness is manifest in a constantly shifting array of projects: his Gateway trio with Dave Holland and John Abercrombie, duos with Gambian kora master Foday Musa Suso, and a bracing electric quintet with reedist Rudresh Mahanthappa and guitarist David Fiuczynski (who play together on Pritzker on Saturday evening) just to name a few recent efforts. That quest for new combinations and flavors should hit pay dirt for this very special engagement arriving just a few weeks after his 71st birthday. DeJohnette has assembled a dream band for his hometown, assembling three of the greatest artists to emerge from Chicago’s Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians: pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, and reedists Henry Threadgill and Roscoe Mitchell, players just as fiercely individualistic and peripatetic as he is (the quintet is rounded out by the great Chicago bassist Larry Gray).