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Jack DeJohnette: 70 Years Of Propulsive, Percussive Mastery

Jack DeJohnette.
Courtesy of the artist
Jack DeJohnette.

It's turning out to be a great year for jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette.

In January, he was named an NEA Jazz Master for lifetime achievement. He began celebrating his 70th birthday early — it's August 9 — by going on a short performance tour this month with his old friends, Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke. The celebration continues this summer, as he tours Europe with the Keith Jarrett trio. As if that's not enough, he also released one of the best albums of the year in any genre, Sound Travels.

So, as a way of saying "congratulations and happy birthday year," here are just a few highlights from the ongoing career of one of America's finest and most versatile musicians.

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Jack DeJohnette: 70 Years Of Propulsive, Percussive Mastery

Charles Lloyd Quartet

"Forest Flower: Sunrise"

From 'Forest Flower: Charles Lloyd at Monterey'

By Charles Lloyd Quartet

If we had to pick one jazz composition that typified 1967's Summer of Love, it would be saxophonist Charles Lloyd's two-part "Forest Flower." (The first "Sunrise" section is heard here.) In 1966, Lloyd's quartet released three albums, all of which featured the 24-year-old Jack DeJohnette on drums. This concert recording from the 1966 Monterey Jazz Festival became a hit, introducing DeJohnette to a worldwide audience. With Keith Jarrett on piano and Cecil McBee on bass, the quartet made a sort of jazz which resonated with the Flower Power generation.

Miles Davis

"Miles Runs the Voodoo Down"

From 'Bitches Brew'

By Miles Davis

In 1969, DeJohnette became the drummer in Miles Davis' touring band and one of four drummers (with Don Alias, Billy Cobham and Lenny White) involved in Davis' groundbreaking Bitches Brew recording. This little taste of "Miles Runs The Voodoo Down" (the 45 RPM edit) features DeJohnette with a stellar crew of musicians, including Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, Bennie Maupin, Joe Zawinul and Harvey Brooks. DeJohnette would continue to collaborate with many of these musicians in his future projects as a bandleader.

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette

cover for <em>Whisper Not</em>
cover for Whisper Not


From 'Whisper Not'

By Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette

The Keith Jarrett trio with Jack DeJohnette on drums and Gary Peacock on bass has become one of the most famous and long-lived groups in jazz history. For almost three decades, the trio has been touring, recording, winning awards and generally setting the bar for the format. In this 1999 version of Bud Powell's "Hallucinations," you can feel the full force of DeJohnette's propulsive bebop drumming.

Jack DeJohnette/Foday Musa Suso

"Ocean Wave"

From 'Music from the Hearts of the Masters'

By Jack DeJohnette/Foday Musa Suso

Like any truly great musician, Jack DeJohnette is constantly exploring new ways to express himself — and finding new musical companions with whom to explore. In 2005, DeJohnette teamed up with Gambian kora master Foday Musa Suso for this wonderful duet recording. Listen to DeJohnette's relaxed, lyrical soloing, all the while maintaining the song's great groove. It's a thing of beauty.

Jack DeJohnette

"Salsa for Luisito"

From 'Sound Travels'

By Jack DeJohnette

On this song from his latest album, out this past January, DeJohnette does quadruple-duty. He wrote the song, can be heard playing drums and piano, and sings harmony vocals. His colleagues on this recording are Esperanza Spalding (bass, vocals), Luisito Quintero (percussion, vocals), Ambrose Akinmusire (trumpet), Lionel Loueke (guitar) and Tim Ries (saxophones). Other notable guests elsewhere on the record include Jason Moran, Bobby McFerrin and Bruce Hornsby.

Nick Morrison