Music

Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago

Modern jazz's legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette assembles a post-bop dream team from hell.


Jack DeJohnette

Made in Chicago

Label: ECM
US Release Date: 2015-03-10
UK Release Date: 2015-01-19
Label website
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Jack DeJohnette has been a modern jazz fixture for so long that it's easy to forget about his origins. The context for the Made in Chicago goes way back to his beginnings. I'm not talking about his first album as a bandleader with the Complex or his drumming on Bitches Brew, we need to go back even further to his ties with the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) and the Chicago jazz scene. DeJohnette studied at Wilson junior college with none other than pianist Muhal Richard Abrams and multi-reedsmen Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill. If you know any of those three names then you know that those guys are nuts. Middle-of-the-road for Abrams, Mitchell and Threadgill is still pretty out-there, even when compared to most of DeJohnette's work. But when Jack DeJohnette was given the opportunity to choose any music he wanted for the Chicago Jazz Festival, he opted to work with those guys and bassist and Larry Gray. The result is the ECM monster album Made in Chicago, recorded at the amphitheater in Millennium Park. Abrams, Threadgill, and DeJohnette contribute one composition apiece while Mitchell brings two. The final track, "Ten Minutes" (which actually lasts only six minutes) is a full group improvisation where all five get songwriting credit. All things considered, Made in Chicago is an aggressively great album, both crazy and tender in its art.

Part of admiring this album is being familiar with the crack-crazy dream team of a lineup. The other angle for admiring it -- the listening -- isn't going to come cheap. All of these songs are long (the aforementioned "Ten Minutes" is the shortest thing here) and the most challenging number here is the lengthiest. It also comes first. Roscoe Mitchell, probably the most confrontational musician of the quintet, wrote the near 17-minute hurricane "Chant". Mitchell and Threadgill trade sea-sickening eighth-note figures, rolling up and down and up and down. Jack DeJohnette's parts certainly aren't going to make you an less ill with the furious fills that rarely resolve. The dynamics stay at full throttle so good luck trying to sneak nap in while listening to "Chant".

Probably the most graceful song on Made in Chicago is the one written by DeJohnette himself, "Museum of Time". Being a pianist himself, Jack DeJohnette helps make Muhal Richard Abrams the center of attention on this sprawling, anchorless yet elegiac piece. Abrams sort of returns the favor with his "Jack 5" which happens to kick off with a drum solo. Oddest of all, both Threadgill and Mitchell stay silent for approximately half of Threadgill's original "Leave Don't Go Away". It could be that, since his Zooid band doesn't have a pianist, he felt the need to indulge himself by letting Abrams dominate the bulk of the piece. Besides, Mitchell and Threadgill have more than sax skills to show off with Threadgill occasionally switching to bass flute and Mitchell picking up either his sopranino sax, soprano sax, baroque flute or bass recorder. "This", Mitchell's other composition, is just as bewildering as "Chant" though its abstract nature makes it more difficult to understand why. But low-register flutes and bowed bass at least make the sounds enjoyable.

Speaking of bowed bass, it's easy to overlook a guy like Gray on a release like this one -- not because his playing is generic or boring, but because it's so easy to be star-struck by the lineup that surrounds him. But as a rule of thumb, if a guy like DeJohnette asked a guy like Gray to play in a band like this, that should be endorsement enough. You don't ask any old nobody to play bass alongside Jack DeJohnette, Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, and Muhal Richard Abrams. DeJohnette, Threadgill, Mitchell and Abrams are no ordinary band and Made in Chicago is not one of your run-of-the-mill post-bop releases. It's an electrifying concert, a rare reunion (a word that sounds too trite at the moment) and a far out aggregate. How could you lose?

8

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

In a staid city like Washington, D.C., too many concert programs still stick to the basics. An endless litany of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concerti clog the schedules and parades of overeager virtuosi seem unwilling to vary their repertoire for blasé D.C. concertgoers. But occasionally you encounter a concert that refreshes your perspective of the familiar. The works presented at The Kennedy Center on 25 October 2017 might be stalwarts of 20th century repertoire, but guest conductor Antonio Pappano, leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, reminded us how galvanizing the canonical can still be. Though grandiose executions of Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome were the main event, the sold-out crowd gathered to see Martha Argerich perform one of her showpieces, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Rather than once again exploring the all-too-familiar territory of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva's debut novel contextualizes the work's origins and gets inside the mind of its creator.


Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol has been told and retold so many times over the years that, by this point, one might be hard-pressed to find a single soul evenly glancingly familiar with western culture who isn't at least tangentially acquainted with the holiday classic. This is, of course, a bit of holiday-themed hyperbole, but the fact remains that the basic premise of A Christmas Carol has become so engrained in our culture that it would seem near impossible to imagine a time prior to its existence. It's universally-relatable themes of the power of kindness, redemption and forgiveness speaks to the heart of the Christmas season – at least as it has been presented in the 174 years since it was first published in 19 December 1843 -- just in time for Christmas.

Keep reading... Show less
6
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image