Release date: January 26, 2004
Jack DeJohnette is more than the sums of his drums. He is also a distinctive composer and bandleader, and in this :rarum collection he allows immersive insight into a career that might not ever have flourished in the way it did without ECM’s faith. On the dark side of this moon, he charts superlative contributions as sideman to such enduring cartographies as In Pas(s)ing with guitarist Mick Goodrick, saxophonist John Surman, and bassist Eddie Gomez. On that 1979 album’s “Feebles, Fables And Ferns,” a laid-back tune with tender purpose woven into its every fiber, Surman’s baritone is especially comforting and offsets DeJohnette’s starlight in spades. And on “How’s Never,” taken from 1995’s Homecoming, we find him in the likeminded company of guitarist John Abercrombie and bassist Dave Holland. The fact that this tune also appeared on Holland’s own :rarum entry means we can now revisit it with the drumming in mind, thus finding an explosive heart at play. Another curious outlier is that traced by him and pianist Keith Jarrett on 1973’s Ruta and Daitya. From that rarely discussed duo album drops the internal dialoguing of “Overture / Communion.”
Swinging around to the fully sunlit face rewards our telescopic listening with the formative statements of “Third World Anthem” (Album Album, 1984) and “Silver Hollow” (New Directions,1978), of which the former could only have come to life as it did at the hands of John Purcell (alto), David Murray (tenor), Howard Johnson (tuba), and Rufus Reid (bass). This DeJohnette original is a master class in joyful noise that compels each soloist to unlock his own secret in the theme at hand. Another substantial leader date tapped here is 1997’s Oneness, for which he assembled a simpatico band with guitarist Jerome Harris, pianist Michael Cain, and percussionist Don Alias. The latter’s congas set the stage for “Jack In,” thereby showing DeJohnette’s sound to be everyday living personified.
Rounding out this conspectus, and rightfully so, are two selections from 1977’s solo endeavor, Pictures. With Abercrombie, guesting on “Picture 5,” he renders a strangely moving experience that moves from abstractions to martial beat and back again, and on “Picture 6” plays piano and percussion for an exercise in aural cinema. Indeed, his images are lit as if by projection so that they may burn themselves into the mind and, ultimately, the heart.