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Jack DeJohnette in the studio

Jack DeJohnette in the studio

So now someone needs to tell Jack DeJohnette that it’s time for lunch. It’s three o’clock. People are hungry. I am hungry. That’s probably on me, I should tell Jack to stop playing piano. Jack doesn’t eat. Jack is occupied.

There’s something unworldly about the natural musician. I’m not talking about the virtuosic musician, or even the talented musician. No birth-contortions as the music is torn from the cerebrum, just the imperturbable flow–conduit to another world. When Jack plays piano, he just turns on the tap and floods the studio. 

“Hey Jack, how do you feel about Thai food?”

These compositions of Jack’s comprise his entire career and there is something so intimate about hearing him in this context. This isn’t nostalgia, or even a reinterpretation. This is storytelling. There is a whole life in this music.

Billy Hart was in the studio the day before, and we got to talking about Jack DeJohnette, the pianist. Billy swears that he moved to NYC expressly with the intention of working with Jack. “That was my shot at stardom,” “that was my piano player.”

What’s undeniable, what is certain from the moment you first hear Jack touch the 9 foot Fazioli we’ve moved in here, is that nobody sounds like this. Jack never built any safety nets on the piano, no licks to fall back on, risky stuff, performed on an instrument that couldn’t possibly leave you more exposed. The Fazioli flashes clarity in parts of the register that are uncharted on most pianos. This piano can see through walls.

“Jack we’ve got some shrimp pad thai for you, its on the counter in the back, when you’re ready.”

Jack is luxuriating in there. He’s not at the summit of a mountain. He’s built a world and now he’s out for a stroll in it. He’s doing the backstroke in the ocean.

–Elan Mehler

Jack DeJohnette
June 6th 2015, 2:45 pm

(photo of Jack ©William Semeraro)

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