Thursday, March 14, 2013

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At first glance it might appear that Jack DeJohnette’s Music We Are is simply a jazz piano trio recording, albeit one that has a compelling lineup since the other players include pianist Danilo Perez and bassistJohn Patitucci. That said, appearances can be, and in this case are certainly, deceiving. These musicians have all played together before in other contexts: DeJohnette and Patitucci have worked together on a pair of Steve Khan’s recordings, while Perez and Patitucci are members of Wayne Shorter’s quartet. The music here ranges widely. One highlight among many is the straight-ahead Latinized modern jazz of “Cobilla.” Here Patitucci’s upper-register playing on the electric bass is nothing short of startling but is balanced by the multi-layered, double-timed percussive attack by DeJohnette as Perez comps large chords inside the syncopation. The opening cut is the delightfully playful and inventive “Tango African,” on which DeJohnette and Patitucci multi-track more than one instrument -- in the former case it’s the melodica on top of drums, in the latter it’s electric bass over an upright one. Perez stretches the melodica’s simple melody, harmonically enhancing it while responding in sprightly ways to the rhythm section’s dancelike vibe. But then there’s the great improvisational flavor on this record as well: “Seventh D” is a piece DeJohnette has recorded before but here it appears in two movements. The first is a gorgeous Latin groove with Perez showcasing his contrapuntal post-bop chops taking the melody and knotting it tightly while swinging the entire way; in the second part, it’s Patitucci's chance to solo on some of the same themes articulated earlier, with double-timed comps by Perez in polyrhythmic ways asDeJohnette pushes both with his trademark-style double tom-tom attack. “Panama Viejo” is an improvisational ballad with Patitucci’s arco work articulating a melancholy melody as Perez improvises on the chord structure of the piece and DeJohnette shimmers his cymbals and hi-hat to create a timelessness and space in the proceedings. This is a solidly enjoyable yet very expansive take on the piano trio format. It was obviously a blast to record it as well.


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