Jack DeJohnette

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About Jack DeJohnette

One of the most dominant percussionists in jazz since the late 1960s, Jack DeJohnette has distinguished himself not only as a great drummer but as one of the most exploratory bandleaders in jazz history. DeJohnette was born in Chicago in 1942. Encouraged by his uncle, a local DJ, he began learning piano at age four—an instrument he continued to play throughout his career—but switched to drums as a teen. He became a founding member of the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) in 1965, reflecting his interest in the avant-garde after working in R&B and hard bop contexts. In 1966 he moved to New York City, where he joined the Charles Lloyd Quartet alongside pianist Keith Jarrett. The group became a major crossover act with rock audiences thanks in part to DeJohnette’s propulsive rhythms. He left the group in 1968 and worked with other major figures like pianist Bill Evans and saxophonist Stan Getz before he was invited to participate in the paradigm-shifting electric albums of Miles Davis, including In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, both released in 1969. DeJohnette continued to work with Davis over the next few years, and although he released his first album as a leader in 1968, his bandleading really took root in 1972 when he signed with ECM Records, where his acclaimed output straddled the divide between proto-fusion and post-bop. In the 1980s, his band Special Edition—with players like David Murray, Lester Bowie, and Arthur Blythe—connected his AACM roots to post-bop aesthetics. Beginning in 1983, DeJohnette joined Keith Jarrett’s Standards Trio alongside bassist Gary Peacock, and over the years the drummer has worked with the likes of John Scofield, Herbie Hancock, and Pat Metheny. Even as he entered his eighties he remained a major draw on the international circuit.

Chicago, IL, United States
August 9, 1942
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