"You Can Get There" Jack DeJohnette: "Extra Special Edition" (Blue Note) Recorded 1994
DeJohnette's most recent solo project features three musicians
who have been with his Special Edition band for several years-keyboardist
Michael Cain, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, and saxophonist/flutist Gary
Thomas-along with new members Marvin Sewell on guitar and Paul Grassi on
percussion, and special guest Bobby McFerrin on vocals. On this particular
track McFerrin contributes a whistled melody while DeJohnette maintains a
samba-influenced groove with brushes. "The idea behind this project was to
go in without a lot of fixed compositions," DeJohnette explains. "Bobby and
I have been doing spontaneous improvisation together since we met about
twenty years ago. He sat in with my group once in California and fit right
in, and we've also done some gigs together with [Pat Metheny Group pianist]
Lyle Mays, and just as a duo. "Bobby evokes that childlike spirit, that
playfulness, that abandonment. He brings out my childlike curiosity-the joy
of spontaneous improvisation and of taking risks. With Bobby, I feel that we
can try anything and go anywhere. We can get out of that societal aspect of
having to be a certain way. It's very challenging but also very
comfortable." It's difficult enough for two musicians to improvise freely
together and come up with cohesive statements like those found on Extra
Special Edition, which often sound more composed than improvised. For an
entire band to pull off such a feat is downright incredible. "Yeah, well, I
could trust everybody," DeJohnette says, sounding like a proud father. "I
wouldn't take that kind of risk if I couldn't trust the people I was playing
with, but in this case I was surrounded with musicians who are good at
improvising together and who think for themselves as well as for each other.
"The sessions were really fun and very creative," DeJohnette says. "We went
in with a very loose approach, and most of the tracks with Bobby were
totally improvised. He has a very playful spirit, but he's also very serious
as a musician and an artist. This is not a straight-ahead jazz album; it's
really a different Jack DeJohnette album. I played log drums and percussion,
which gives the music more of a world approach with a jazz flavor. That's
the direction I'm going."
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