Jack DeJohnette / Ravi Coltrane / Matthew Garrison - In Movement - ECM 2488



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“The sound and synergy of the group is our three voices coming together, collectively, acoustically and electronically,” DeJohnette says. Riffing on the trio’s family connections, Jack adds that the bond is not only musical but also spiritual. “Matthew lived with me in his teen years,” the drummer points out. “He used to stay down in the basement and practice, and I’d work with him, tell him to listen to this, that and the other. Then he went to the Berklee School of Music and, consequently, got hired by Gary Burton. Matthew went on to be a composer and work with some top names in jazz: Herbie Hancock, John Scofield, John McLaughlin. He and Ravi are now seasoned musicians, moving into their next phase of development as creative artists. Matt has a great use of time and space. We do a lot of experiments with electronics, which Matthew uses to create layers, arpeggios and loops. He’s always coming up with something fresh.

Ravi has a unique sound on tenor, soprano and, now for the first time on record, the sopranino. He’s got great intuition and his own way of playing, rhythmically and harmonically. Ravi and Matthew are aware of their heritage, but part of the intention of their music is to be recognized for who they are – and that’s already apparent. That’s why I play with them, because they have their own voices.” 

Ravi, reflecting on the Coltrane and Davis interpretations, says: “It’s great to be able to play ‘Alabama’ and ‘Blue in Green.’ It’s a pleasure to play any classic music like that, but the goal is to find how our own voices fit within those songs. They’re flexible enough to not think of them as songs tied to the past. So much beautiful music has been laid down, but to strictly re-create things is not what we’re here for.” About his approach to hallowed material, Matthew adds: “The use of electronics gives me an opportunity to re-imagine how I hear those compositions.


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I like to be able to take those things and filter them through my own processes and then have that bounce off Ravi and Jack, so that the music becomes this series of undulating movements.”

Along with the trio composition “Two Jimmy’s,” that sense of undulating movements marks the aptly named title track, also written by the trio. The same truth-in-advertising goes for “Soulful Ballad,” which finds DeJohnette playing his composition on his other prime instrument, the piano. (He led a piano trio from the keyboard in his early Chicago days.) Another lyrical number penned by DeJohnette, “Lydia,” is dedicated to his wife. He says: “It has become a mainstay in our repertoire. Lydia has a very special place in our hearts, of course, so the song evokes a lot of feeling, and beauty.”

One of the album’s hottest performances is the duet composition “Rashied,” featuring Ravi keening on sopranino over DeJohnette’s roiling, circular drum patterns à la Ali. About the track’s inspiration, the saxophonist says: “Rashied Ali was an incredible man, an incredible drummer, and somebody who affected us personally in a very deep way. Rashied was like a second father to me, just as Jack has become like a second father to me.” DeJohnette adds: “It was influenced by the Interstellar Space duo album by John Coltrane and Rashied. That vibe, and Rashied’s energy, comes through our piece.” Matthew notes that the two players got a standing ovation from the crew in Avatar while recording it. DeJohnette recalls: “I said, ‘Let’s play “Rashied”,’ and all of a sudden, boom! Ravi got the sopranino, and we took off – he was on fire.” 


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In his New York Times review of a Brooklyn show by the trio just before they went into the studio, Nate Chinen praised Ravi’s “impassioned… heroic voice.” The critic also extolled Matthew’s “expressionistic use of color and texture.” Chinen described the group’s hard-grooving interpretation of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Serpentine Fire” – which ended up as a highlight of In Movement – as “smart, slanted… snake-like, evoking Mr. DeJohnette’s jazz-funk shift with Miles Davis.” Remarkably, the 73-year-old drummer – who has logged more studio time for ECM than any other musician over nearly five decades – plays with the energy and acuity of a musician less than half his age, laying down a deep, sophisticated backbeat on “Serpentine Fire.” He remains a kinetic marvel, his rare combination of power and grace reminding one of what Miles Davis said in his autobiography about DeJohnette’s playing on Bitches Brew: “Jack gave me a deep groove that I just loved to play over.”

Musing upon the studio experience with Ravi and Matthew, DeJohnette says: “I’m inspired by what we did – we got into some amazing sonic grooves. It’s a continuation, a moving of our music forward – music that’s not locked into any one genre. I know I haven’t heard any combination like this. There’s the past and the present and the future in what we’re doing.”