Archive for Jack de Johnette

A Kind of Brew

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , , on August 27, 2011 by telescoper

Well here’s a find for fan’s of Miles Davis. I stumbled across this exceedingly rare clip of his 1969 band playing at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London, complete with an introduction by Ronnie Scott himself. It’s  rare, firstly, because Miles didn’t do many club gigs at this time (or after) and I have a feeling that this might be one of his last; he usually played big concert venues whenever he toured in later years. But an even rarer thing about it is that this is the legendary “Lost Quintet” of Miles (on trumpet, of course), Wayne Shorter on saxophone(s), Chick Corea (keyboards), Jack de Johnette on drums and Dave Holland on bass.

Filmed in November 1969, this performance took place just a few months after the recording sessions that give rise to the celebrated but controversial album Bitches Brew, which was released in April 1970. The band at Ronnie Scotts was a subset of the larger ensemble that made the album, but you can hear the similarity in musical style, heavily influenced by psychedelic rock…

And here, for completeness, is a fuller version of the title track of the album Bitches Brew, recorded just two days later in the Tivoli Concert Hall in Copenhagen.

Miles was obviously experimenting with a much freer form of improvisation at this time and both the album and this live performance seethe with a kind of wild passion that threatens to burst into anarchy at any moment. It’s not exactly easy listening, of course, and the live performance is inevitably rough around the edges, but I think it’s a fascinating bit of jazz history. And, for what it’s worth, I think Bitches Brew is completely and utterly brilliant..

Cantaloupe Island(s)

Posted in Jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by telescoper

It’s been a pretty exhausting few weeks, but now we’ve reached the end of teaching term. Not that I’ve got nothing to do, but I should be able to concentrate on writing up a few papers that I’ve struggling with for many months.

Anyway by way of a celebration, and to correct for the fact that I haven’t posted much music recently, here are two totally different versions of a great tune by Herbie Hancock called Cantaloupe Island. The original recording of this came (made on June 17 1964) appeared on the album Empyrean Isles which came out on the Blue Note Records label. Its instantly catchy riff and fine solo playing turned it into a big hit, and it quickly became a standard.

The first  video clip features the original personnel of Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Tony Williams (drums) and Freddie Hubbard (trumpet) but with the addition of the great tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. It was recorded during a special concert in 1985 to celebrate the Blue Note label. It’s got a similar groove to the original version, but the live performance allows the players to stretch out a lot more than on the original, so it’s about twice as long.

The second rendition also features Herbie Hancock on piano (and other keyboards), but it’s totally different. Taken at a faster tempo, and firmly in the style of Jazz-rock Fusion that Hancock gravitated towards later in his career, it features Pat Metheney (on electric guitar), Dave Holland (bass) and Jack de Johnette on drums. They’re all great, but the drummer on this track is sensational! I saw Jack de Johnette playing years ago – at the Jazz Cafe, I think – and I couldn’t believe the speed of his hands and the immense drive he generated even while playing complicated patterns. Awesome. 

PS. I’ve used the spelling I believe to be correct, as that’s how it’s written on the original Blue Note record (of which I have a copy). I’ve seen many variants, though, including those on the youtube clips shown here.