Jack DeJohnette: Pictures (ECM 1079)

ECM 1079

Jack DeJohnette

Jack DeJohnette drums, piano, organ
John Abercrombie electric and acoustic guitars
Recorded February, 1976 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Hot on the heels of his stellar Directions debut, drummer Jack DeJohnette settled down in the studio for this cool duo album with guitarist John Abercrombie. Less a side project than a chance to open the mind to more introverted images, Pictures is the spark behind the fire.

The steady beats of “Picture 1” grow in scope with every new added detour. What at first seems a drumming exercise quickly turns haunting as an organ rises up from the earthen tide. After the ode to toms and cymbals that is “Picture 2,” the following three Pictures feature Abercrombie’s improvisatory accents, which range from meandering to cathartic. But the real pièce de résistance is “Picture 6.” As its temperate piano introduction works its way into a swell of gongs, we begin to see the melody behind the fire. It is a Keith Jarrett moment if there ever was one, the Ruta and Daitya that could have been.

Like any good picture, DeJohnette’s curious little project has everything it needs in frame. Nothing extraneous; stripped-down music-making for its own sake, offered up to the listener with humility and respect. This is not an album meant to titillate or to excite or to make any sweeping statements on the nature of its own becoming. It professes to be nothing beyond the space implied, never the sum but the equation laid bare. Get this album for its stunning closer, and open yourself to its other intimacies. Pictures gives us unique insight into the craft of a musician more widely known for his equally arousing timing and delivery.

<< Enrico Rava: The Plot (ECM 1078)
>> John Abercrombie/Ralph Towner: Sargasso Sea (ECM 1080)

3 thoughts on “Jack DeJohnette: Pictures (ECM 1079)

  1. I’ve been listening to this one since about 1978 myself-my very favorite Dejohnette album ever. Wish he would do another one just like this. The 2nd half- “Pictures 4, 5 &6” are by far my favorites, but I have to make mention of the live drum solo that makes up “Picture 2”. When is the last time you could not only remember a drum solo, but actually sing it as well? It seems Dejohnette was very involved in carefully tuning the drums and using the tonal potential to actually play a little repeating melody on the drums that I can recall and sing at any time of day-even if I didn’t play the album for years! That’s saying something. The little melodic repeating phrase that he plays on that track should be used as an example for drummers everywhere of the potential of what a very simple kit drum can do.

  2. Thank you for the comments on “Picture 2.” I’m afraid I glossed over its brilliance in my eagerness to talk about the album’s stellar latter half. Melodic, and then some!

  3. And I forgot to mention that “Picture 5” is a wonderful Spanish-influenced march done live with Abercrombie’s 6-string acoustic and Jack on drums. This one took awhile fo rme to get into but became a tie for my favorite piece on the album along with “Picture 6”. Dejohnette himself chose to include these 2 pieces on his “Rarum” best-of CD from a few years ago, so he must also see it as something he’s proud of. Oh yeah, i’ll never forget that once Jack mentioned in an interview that “Pictures” is the type of album that someone would play when they “wanted to be alone” and listen to something. He didn’t elaboprate any further what he meant by this exactly., so my guess is that he sees this as a more introverted, intimate album among his catalog.

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