Jack DeJohnette: Made in Chicago / Abrams, Gray, Mitchell, Threadgill


By 1960, the city of Chicago had experienced decades of transformation and social change. Waves of European immigrants from far shores, as well as migrants from within the nation’s borders, among them millions of African-Americans, coursed into this “City by the Lake,” its broad shoulders proving both welcoming and menacing in its embrace of this new populace. Music formed an identifiable and indelible part of that social change, so much so that by the 1920’s the city was home to the jazz avant-garde, an important precursor of what was to follow some two generations later.

According to A Power Stronger Than Itself, the magisterial, must-read tome by George E. Lewis, Chicago’s “Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians,” or AACM, was officially chartered on August 5th, 1965; its first official concert, hosting a quintet led by saxophonist Joseph Jarman, followed less than two weeks later. Forty-eight years hence, on August 29th, 2013, a five-man band – AACM founder Muhal Richard Abrams; early, influential members Roscoe Mitchell and Henry Threadgill; bassist Larry Gray; and emcee and organizer of this Special “Legends” Edition grouping, Jack DeJohnette – all having deep, intimate ties to Chicago, the AACM, its members, and most of all each other, torched the stage at Chicago’s Millennium Park as part of that year’s 35th Chicago Jazz Festival. And now, in the Association’s fiftieth year, listeners can revel in this momentous concert’s scorching, epiphany-inducing music via the ECM label’s Made in Chicago, a CD release timed to celebrate the organization’s golden anniversary.

Roscoe Mitchell’s insistent, ritualistic “Chant,” flowering into an extended, full-throated Threadgill-led statement before the full quintet’s abrupt finish, finds the musicians and audience immediately and loudly expressing their amazement and gratification. Mr. Abrams’ intricate “Jack 5” is subdued yet stirring, ending with a tumultuous bass feature by Mr. Gray.

Messrs. Threadgill and Mitchell take up their flutes, and Mr. Gray his cello, on Mitchell’s haunting, somewhat spectral “This.” DeJohnette’s steady, insistent “Museum of Time” bookends a swelling, emotive middle with contemplative and mysteriously-fashioned music, Mr. Abrams’ piano providing the track’s emotional guidance and structure. Mr. Abrams’ fierce, bracing solo is the highlight of Threadgill’s “Leave Don’t Go Away.” “Ten Minutes,” following final words from the drummer extraordinaire, sends the crowd out ecstatically.

Experimentalism, exploration, individuality, reciprocity, radicalism, synchronous communication and collaborative unity, all on passionate, fiery display, will fill listeners with equally jubilant feelings.

Jack DeJohnette Trio feat. Ravi Coltrane & Matt Garrison - Wise One - Live @ Blue Note Milano