JJ 03/81: Jack DeJohnette – New Directions In Europe

Forty years ago, Mark Gilbert might have mistaken shaky technique for humour. First published in Jazz Journal March 1981


Like most exciting and challenging music, this album is one of con­trasts and extremes. All the players are virtuosos; masters of expres­sion, not afraid to mock even themselves. On this recording they draw out irony, pathos, and jubilant music.

Salsa For Eddie G best epitomises the extremes and the results. DeJohnette’s long solo in­troduction explores all kinds of tempi, lulling the listener into security, till he forgets the presence of the other instruments. The ensemble entry is explosive, dominated by Gomez’s surging bass, which here and throughout has relentless power. A few bars of this swinging Latin riff precede a pathetic salsa theme played slightly offkey. In any other context it could sound amateurish, but here it produces a powerful bathos. Bowie is the master of extremes in his soloing, from blues or Tijuana style to plaintive half-valve effects.

DeJohnette’s talent as a pianist begets a more serious mood on another outstanding track, Bayou Fever, his solo intro mixing numerous styles. Gomez picks up the rhythm, striking harmonics on the bass as DeJohnette returns to the drum stool. Bowie blows ten­tatively off-mike until Abercrombie and DeJohnette enter in unison, to create a rich Arabic texture. Aber­crombie here takes his chance to prove himself a front line soloist, most of his playing hitherto com­prising low key meanderings in ac­companiment to Bowie’s solos.

An album to be wholly recommended for its imagination, vigour, modesty and humour.

Salsa For Eddie G; Where Or Wayne (27.38) — Bayou Fever; Multo Spilagio (27.44)
Jack DeJohnette (d); Lester Bowie (t); John Abercrombie (g/man); Eddie Gomez (b). Willisau, Switzerland, June 1979.
(ECM 1157)