Jack DeJohnette’s Directions – Live In Bremen – 1976 – Past Daily Downbeat
Jack DeJohnette’s Directions – Live in Bremen – February 12, 1976 – West German Radio –
Jack DeJohnette and Directions this weekend. Live in Bremen and recorded on February 12, 1976. The lineup consists of; DeJohnette, drums – John Abercrombie, guitar – Alex Foster, sax – Mike Richmond, Bass and (rumored to be) Warren Bernhardt on piano. Bernhardt had reportedly left the group before this gig, and if that’s the case, the pianist is a mystery.
Jack DeJohnette is an important figure of the fusion era of jazz. He is one of the most influential jazz drummers of the 20th century, given his extensive work as leader and sideman for musicians including Charles Lloyd, Freddie Hubbard, Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, John Abercrombie, Alice Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Michael Brecker, Herbie Hancock and John Scofield.
DeJohnette’s first record, The DeJohnette Complex, was released in 1968; on the album, he played melodica as well as drums, preferring often to let his mentor, Roy Haynes, sit behind the set. He also recorded, in the early 1970s, the albums Have You Heard, Sorcery, and Cosmic Chicken. He released these first four albums on either the Milestone or Prestige labels, and then switched to ECM for his next endeavors; ECM gave him a “fertile platform” for his “atmospheric drumming and challenging compositions.”
The musical freedom he had while recording for ECM offered DeJohnette many dates as a sideman and opportunities to start his own groups. He first formed the group Compost in 1972, but this was a short-lived endeavor, and DeJohnette cited the music as far too experimental to achieve commercial success. During this period, DeJohnette continued his career as a sideman as well, rejoining Stan Getz’s quartet from 1973 to October 1974, and also enticing Dave Holland to join Getz’s rhythm section. This stint briefly preceded the formation of the Gateway Trio, a group that DeJohnette helped form but did not lead. This group came directly out of DeJohnette’s time with Getz, as Holland joined him in this group along with guitarist John Abercrombie, both of whom would become associated with DeJohnette throughout his career. His next group effort was Directions, a group formed in 1976 featuring saxophonist Alex Foster, bassist Mike Richmond, and Abercrombie, showing the links between the members of the Gateway trio. This was another short-lived group, yet it led directly to the formation of DeJohnette’s next group, New Directions, which featured Abercrombie again on guitar along with Lester Bowie on trumpet and Eddie Gómez on bass. This group coexisted with another DeJohnette group, Special Edition, which was the first DeJohnette-led group to receive critical acclaim. This group also helped the careers of many lesser-known young horn players, as it had a rotating front line that included David Murray, Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman, and John Purcell, among others.
During this period, especially with Special Edition, DeJohnette offered “the necessary gravity to keep the horns in a tight orbit” in his compositions while also treating his listeners to “the expanded vocabulary of the avant-garde plus the discipline of traditional jazz compositions.” DeJohnette’s work with Special Edition has been interrupted regularly by other projects, the most significant of which are his recordings in 1983 and tours from 1985 as a member of Keith Jarrett’s trio, which was totally devoted to playing jazz standards. The trio included his long-time compatriot Jarrett and bassist Gary Peacock, and all three have been members of the group for over 25 years.
And here’s what he was up to in 1976 – enjoy the gig.
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