For more than 25 years, Anouar Brahem has taken his oud all over far off lands. A melodic impressionist and a for ever inspired improvisor, the Tunisian musician has above all toppled the barriers which separate genres…
Though Richie Beirach isn't obscure, he isn't as well-known as he should be. A flexible pianist, Beirach can be quite lyrical on standards, although being cerebral and abstract also comes easy to him. One of the more cerebral, unsentimental albums he recorded in the '90s was Trust, a fine post-bop trio date boasting Dave Holland on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums.
The halfway point in ECM's excellent 20-volume Rarum series is by one of its signature talents: bassist, composer, and bandleader Dave Holland. These documents are, essentially, career retrospectives wherein the artist chooses from his performances on the label, either as a leader, soloist, or sideman. Holland offers a fantastic cross section from his own catalog, with one exception. That selection is the album's opener, "How's Never" from Homecoming, the second album by Gateway, a trio Holland was involved in with guitarist John Abercrombie and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Most of the rest come from his celebrated 1980s and 1990s recordings with then-young luminaries such as Steve Coleman, Chris Potter, Smitty Smith, Kevin and Robin Eubanks, and ECM veterans such as Kenny Wheeler, Julian Priester, and Steve Wilson.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette (doubling on keyboards) performs three songs with a group featuring bass clarinetist Bennie Maupin and the guitars of John Abercrombie and Mick Goodrick. The music shows the influence of fusion (most obviously on "The Rock Thing") and has its strong moments (much of the nearly 14-minute "Sorcery #1")…The second half of this release, trios by DeJohnette, bassist Dave Holland and Michael Fellerman on metaphone (whatever that is), are less memorable, although one admires DeJohnette's willingness to take chances…
Pictures (1977) is an intriguing offshoot of drummer Jack DeJohnette's work with guitarist John Abercrombie in the Gateway Trio and other groups. A series of lightly colored aural collages that also feature DeJohnette on organ and piano with Abercrombie playing electric and acoustic, it conjures spare, plaintive moods without ever seeming static or New Age-y. The styles vary, ranging from Spanish folk to lyrical fusion to splintered string effects reminiscent of experimental British guitar great Derek Bailey. DeJohnette, who has recorded on the piano in a more straightforward context to less satisfying effect, succeeds in making us see as well as hear his compositions.
At his best, Jack DeJohnette is one of the most consistently inventive jazz percussionists extant. DeJohnette's style is wide-ranging, yet while capable of playing convincingly in any modern idiom, he always maintains a well-defined voice. DeJohnette has a remarkably fluid relationship to pulse. His timing is excellent; even as he pushes, pulls, and generally obscures the beat beyond recognition, a powerful sense of swing is ever-present. His tonal palette is huge as well; no drummer pays closer attention to the sounds that come out of his kit than DeJohnette. He possesses a comprehensive musicality rare among jazz drummers.
West Coast-based pianist Alan Pasqua makes his debut in fine acoustic jazz fashion, backed by a big-name rhythm section: Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. Michael Brecker contributes smoking tenor on "Rio Grande," "The Law of Diminishing Returns," and "L'Inverno." On "Acoma," "A Sleeping Child," "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," and Cole Porter's "All Of You," Pasqua swings effortlessly in a subtle trio idiom.