Monday, 16 May 2016

Jack DeJohnette - Pictures (1977)

Jazz drumming legend Jack DeJohnette, still going at 72, has been an explosive partner to many great musicians over the years, and a masterful, expansive improviser.  Pictures, however, is a much more intimate record, that by DeJohnette's own admission was something to put on and listen to when you "wanted to be alone".  It's also an ECM gem that tends to get lost in the shuffle among the better-known masterpieces of its era.

In a succinct 37-minute tour of DeJohnette's Picture gallery, we're treated to six works titled only by numbers, half of which feature guitarist John Abercrombie.  We start out with DeJohnette solo though, layering a swirling organ drone over a funky drum track on Picture 1, then accomplishing one of the most engrossing and thoroughly melodic drums solos you'll ever hear on Picture 2, owing to his masterful percussion tuning.

Just under a year previous to recording this album, DeJohnette and Abercrombie had been in the ECM studio with bassist Dave Holland to record their legendary first album as the 'Gateway' trio, and we're in similar territory for Pictures 3 through 5, the latter creating a high point in the album through Abercrombie's switch to acoustic guitar.

Picture 6 is back to DeJohnette solo, on percussion and piano.  Opening with a gorgeous, subtly reverbed piano statement (it's often forgotten what a fine pianist the man is, as he's spent so long in the shadow of Keith Jarrett in the Standards Trio).  This is gradually replaced by ominous gongs, which are rejoined by the piano from about the halfway point of the track, becoming more fractured and haunting, taking us to a stunning, evocative conclusion to a great little album.



  1. Wow. Thanks SO much for this Alan! One that I've never heard and been curious about lately!! You wouldn't happen to have the "New Directions" title would you? The studio effort? The one with that great cover pic of Bowie, Abercrombie, Gomez and DeJohnette? Never heard that one and been curious about that too! Oh that golden '70's and early '80's era of ECM! Thanks for all your efforts!!!

    1. Many thanks Chico! Don't have that one, but I'll be keeping an eye out for it!