The Upshot: A record teeming with fiery performances and nuanced compositions that, no matter how frenetic things get, never stops being beautiful.
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Drummer/pianist Jack DeJohnette has a remarkable career going back at least half a century. During that time, he played with the great jazz innovator John Coltrane and his long-serving bass player Jimmy Garrison. Both those lions have passed, but the family tradition lives on with In Movement. Joined by Coltrane’s sax fiend son Ravi and Garrison’s electric bass-wielding progeny Matthew, with whom DeJohnette also has long personal and professional histories, the drummer creates a set of tunes that draw from his myriad past experiences with fusion, free jazz and straight-ahead postbop without falling directly into any of those categories.
“Two Jimmys,” which references both Garrison’s dad and Jimi Hendrix, puts DeJohnette’s busy cymbal work over a throbbing bass guitar groove, as Coltrane weaves melodies in and out of the rhythm barrage. The dynamism burns even brighter on “Rashied,” a tribute to free jazz drumming great Rashied Ali, on which DeJohnette and Coltrane lock horns for a dizzying barrage of sound. For all its fury, the trio knows when to pull back, entering more atmospheric territory with “Lydia,” a tribute to DeJohnette’s wife, and the self-explanatory “Soulful Ballad,” on which the leader features his piano. The title track earns both its status and its title with an energetic cross-pollination of sounds and styles that acknowledges the past while diving straight into the future.
The trio also pays homage to favorites and forebears, opening the record with a lovely take on John Coltrane’s Civil Rights-era statement “Alabama,” and adding even more gorgeous textures to Miles Davis’ masterwork “Blue in Green.” Most intriguingly, the threesome takes on Earth Wind & Fire’s roiling funkfest “Serpentine Fire.” Slowing the tempo down while keeping the groove in motion, the band lets Garrison lead with busy basswork, while Coltrane splashes soprano lines across the arrangement and DeJohnette switches between laying back and blasting out.
The trio also adds some electronic dots and loops here and there, but they’re barely noticeable. Instead the group uses its sparse arrangements to its advantage, giving each other room to flourish without overstepping their boundaries into ostentatiousness – a perfect approach for the crystal clear ECM production aesthetic. The result is a record teeming with fiery performances and nuanced compositions that, no matter how frenetic things get, never stops being beautiful.
DOWNLOAD: “In Movement,” “Serpentine Fire,” “Blue in Green”