Over the past few years, Jack DeJohnette has had his storied jazz career -- now over six decades -- revisited in several ways. In 2013, he led a "dream band" at the Chicago Jazz Festival that included Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Muhal Richard Abrams, and Larry Guy, all of whom he'd played with in the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians during the early '60s. That performance was released in 2015 by ECM as Made in Chicago. Earlier this year, Resonance Records issued Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest, which featured DeJohnette in Bill Evans' trio with Eddie Gomez in 1968.
In Movement finds the bandleader in a new trio with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist/electronicist Matthew Garrison. As a young drummer he had the opportunity to sit in with both their fathers, John Coltrane and Jimmy Garrison. This debut also looks at history, but through the gaze of the present. The set begins with Coltrane, Sr.'s classic Civil Rights-era composition, "Alabama." While it is instantly recognizable, the trio find their own form of liberty within it via Garrison's electric bass harmonics and economic use of electronics. Coltrane's tenor states the melodic frame solemnly while DeJohnette dances around the pair with quick accents and feints, juxtaposing circular rhythm and improvisation. Also present is Miles Davis' modal classic "Blue in Green." This drummerless reading with DeJohnette at the piano is more abstract. Ravi's soprano is beautifully lyrical inside the modes, while Garrison adorns both players in sparse layers of honeyed echo. The inclusion of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Serpentine" is not as out of place as it initially seems: DeJohnette played with the group's founder Maurice White in Chicago. The slow, unwinding funk is a showcase for Coltrane's phrasing and Garrison's groove-laden bass playing as the drummer adds tough, slippery breaks. This group showcases its collective prowess in the long title track. Commencing with an urgent single-chord piano and synth pulse, tapping cymbals, and syncopated hi-hat, Garrison employs a low-end chordal bass toward Coltrane's long, labyrinthine soprano melody. The tune unfurls, building to a stunning crescendo at the conclusion. "Two Jimmys" (for Hendrix and Garrison) offers a Middle Eastern modal center via synth and a treated bassline. Coltrane's tenor moves from the inside to out while DeJohnette's drums deliver a martial cadence that eventually splits the jam wide open. "Rashied" (in tribute to Coltrane, Sr.'s great last drummer Rashied Ali) is a wailing improv duet between DeJohnette and Ravi, exploring their own version of "interstellar space." DeJohnette contributes "Lydia" (an homage to his wife) as a post-bop ballad with gorgeous bassline lyricism from Garrison, and the lovely piano trio closer "Soulful Ballad." Historical (re)examinations aside, In Movement is a compelling first statement from a band who, despite generational differences, is connected through deep listening and harmonic intelligence. This group's future is rife with possibility.