Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild presents Jack DeJohnette on piano at the historic Byrdcliffe Barn on Saturday, August 13.
Jack DeJohnette has a resume that most musicians would be glad to claim as their own. He has made a career of both solo performance and intensive collaboration: “I like that coöperative spirit,” he notes, “I look for that.” As both a drummer and pianist, he has collaborated with the best-respected names in jazz, from John Coltrane and Miles Davis to Keith Jarrett, with whom he has been working for over 30 years.
DeJohnette played and performed classical piano as a child before learning the drums. His mastery of both has resulted in the two percussion instruments being deeply interrelated in his musical approach. Yet while rhythm is at the core his musical thinking, his compositions are sustained equally by melody and narrative; often, he notes, he thinks of a title first, and then improvises the music based on the images and stories it conjures. “I think of myself as a colorist on the drums, like a painter,” he says. “I can work within time, but I can also be free of it, more elastic. Piano is the same way.”
Mr. DeJohnette has been performing with piano trios and other ensembles for much of his career, but just put out his first solo album for piano, Return, in April of 2016. A vinyl-only release, all tracks but one are original compositions by DeJohnette (two are new, others reworked from earlier recordings). Return is meditative, complex, and impressionistic, with multiple opportunities to highlight DeJohnette’s technical virtuosity on the keyboard. One of the new pieces on the album is a direct tribute to Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies; the second new composition, “Dervish Trance,” plays on the physical rhythms of the Sufi Dervishes. In a New York Times review of the album, Nate Chinen says “At no point does he sound like a drummer merely dabbling in melody and harmony … his command of rhythm is as profound and inexplicable in this format as in any other.” It is DeJohnette’s unrivaled relationship to the piano’s trance-inducing percussive power that the audience will experience at Byrdcliffe on August 13.
Mr. DeJohnette is donating the performance to the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild in support of its rich programming including exhibitions, artist residencies, and classes in ceramics, dance, jewelry, textiles, and writing.
Tickets are $50, which includes one beverage. There will also be a cash bar and light snacks. Doors open at 7:30.
Byrdcliffe Barn, 485 Upper Byrdcliffe Rd., Woodstock NY
For more information and to purchase tickets call: 845.679.2079
or go to www.woodstockguild.org/jackdejohnette.html
Tune in for a live interview with Jack DeJohnette on WKZE radio, 98.1 FM, at 9:05 am on Thursday, August 11.
Featured image by William Semeraro