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Academic year: 2021



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Live at the Chicago Jazz Festival

Henr y Threadgill

alto s a xophone b ass flute

Roscoe Mitchell

sopr anino s a xophone sopr ano s a xophone alto s a xophone b ar o que flute b ass r e c or der

Muhal Richard Abrams

piano L arr y Gray double b ass violonc ello Jack De Johnet te drums


Chant 17 : 01

Rosc o e Mitc he ll

Jack 5 14 : 53

Muhal Ric har d A br ams

This 12 : 13

Rosc o e Mitc he ll

Museum of Time 13 : 37

Jac k De Johnet te

Leave Don’t Go Away 10 : 19

Henr y Thr e adgill

Ten Minutes 6 : 0 6

De Johnet te / Thr e adgill / A br ams / Mitc he ll / Gr ay

Publis hers

Rosc o e Mitc hell: A r t Ensemble of Chic ago Publishing Comp any Muhal Ric hardA br ams: RIC_ PEG Publishing Co.

Henr y T hre adgill: yTo Publishing Jac k De Johnet te: De Johnet te Music L ar r y Gr ay: Gr ay water Music


5 4


9 8


13 12


When you play mus ic with people it c reate s a b ond that is never broken.

– Muhal Ric hard A br ams This re c ording from Jack De Johnet te, Muhal Richard Abrams, L arr y Gray, Rosc oe Mitchell and Henr y Thre adgill – the Spe cial “Legends” Edition – is their fir st ever (and we hope there will be more) per formanc e, and it of fer s a superb re aliz ation of what c onstitutes the Improviser’s Ar t. Here we have five musicians adept at grasping ever y thing, and then using it all, within themselves and together as one. Be c ause they are s atisfie d with nothing less than ever y thing, they present questions not wholly answere d and enig ­ matic riddles for listener s to ponder. But such are the rich and c omplex gif ts that honor the aesthetic experienc e and busy traver se bet we en ar tist and audienc e.

Nothing exists by itself in the Improviser’s Ar t. An intric ate net work of relationships imbues and informs e ach moment, whether sense d and un ­ der stood, or not. People, proje c t; the where and when; purpose, emotion; e agerness, aspiration, soulfulness, gratitude, the weather – it adds up in unique cre ations that are c ontinuously re _ shape d and re _imagine d, be c om ­ ing, in time, the share d knowle dge and full glorie d sustenanc e that benefits our being beyond words.

The expressive, p assionate cre ations experienc e d in this c onc er t, “the whirl and churn,” come from an identifiable well of inspiration: a music scene in Chic ago growing out of a time in histor y. For these five thir st y ar tists, the

well has be en a c onsistent mirage before the eyes, many de c ades long, and the promise of fulfillment remains their purpose and ob session.

A timeline to help explain why this group joine d together for a c onc er t on August 29, 2013 begins in the previous summer. Jack De Johnet te, just turned sevent y and recently named a National Endowment for the Ar ts Jaz z Master, re c eive d a let ter from the produc er s of the Chic ago Jaz z Festival st ating that they would like to honor him. He was aske d to per form at the festival in 2013, fre e to present any program of music and amalgam of musicians he would like.

“I s aw this as a gre at oppor tunit y to c ome home and reunite ever yone,” s aid Jack, and the timeline jumps b ack to 1962, when the drummer was primarily a pianist and studying music at Wilson Junior College (now Ken ­ ne dy_ King College) on Chic ago’s South Side with classmates Rosc oe Mit­ chell and Henr y Thre adgill. “ We had one fre e period e ach we ek, and Jack s aid, ‘Let’s have a ( jam) session during the fre e period.’ It goes all the way b ack to there,” remembere d Rosc oe. More gatherings took plac e in e ach other’s homes, if family member s and roommates ac quiesc e d, with other friends like Joseph Jarman and Malachi Favor s showing up to play as well. When aske d to stop, the musicians simply p acke d up and went looking for the nex t session.

“In Chic ago, the jam sessions in the clubs were how you e arne d some cre dibilit y around town,” s aid Jack. “I was playing piano and sit ting _in wher­ ever I c ould. The musicians worke d until t wo in the morning, but then there were ‘bre ak fast jams’ that began at nine a. m. Chic ago was gre at in that


r e s p e c t ; t h e r e we r e a l w ay s mu s i c i a n s p l ay i n g s o m e w h e r e.” At t h e Wo n ­ der Inn, a t avern found at 75th Stre et and Cot t age Avenue, De Johnet te fir st

he ard Sun Ra, Rahs aan Roland K irk and Muhal Richard Abrams, then later he brought one of his fir st b ands, a quintet, into the Archway Lounge ne ar South Park; Muhal was in the house, and took notic e.

Before long, Jack was invite d to be a regular member of Muhal’s fame d E xperiment al Band, and his friends Roscoe, Henr y, Malachi and Joseph soon followe d him. The Monday night “workshop” rehe ar s als took plac e at Lin ­ c oln Center on 39th Stre et. L ater, a sp ac e opene d up on Oakland Boulevard

where the musicians c ould put on c onc er ts and of fer lessons – from which the Association for the Advanc ement of Cre ative Musicians (A ACM) was born in May 1965.

Jack: “Muhal’s door was always open. He wante d to explore dif ferent ways of composing and improvising, and then demonstrated to me, Roscoe, Joseph and Malachi those dif ferent possibilities. It felt natural, and we s aw there were other ways to express our selves through improvis ation. Most impor t antly, we began to re c ognize something in e ach other.”

Muhal: “It wasn’t a proc ess of enc ouragement. Ever yone c ame re ady to be an individual. That’s all it took. And it’s quite strong to be amongst people who want to pur sue their individualism and ac c ept that re aliz ation.”

Jack: “Ornet te may have be en an influenc e on all of us; he fre e d the mu ­ sic and wasn’t c omp ar tment alizing it. But Muhal was a Re naiss anc e Man, who t aught himself all these things. He was always telling us, ‘Go to the librar y.’ Prac ticing ever y day wasn’t enough; he wante d us to be serious.

‘Go get books – you don’t ne e d a lot of money,’ he told us. He’ d alre ady t aught himself orchestration and how to play clarinet; he had studie d all the piano player s. And yet he still has the child _ like at titude toward things – he was full of wonder. Around the piano, even today, you get the sense that he’s still a kid.”

When there are a lot of strong, cre ative individuals who want to express themselves, it is ne c ess ar y to figure out how it c an be ac c omplishe d in a c olle c tive fashion. The solution c ame to ever yone “naturally,” Muhal s aid, and adde d, “ We were ver y for tunate to be in that sp ac e at that time. Ever y­ body that c ame into that sp ac e drew energy from e ach other. It felt spe cial and unique be c ause ever yone was there for the right re asons, and ever y­ one’s ef for ts se eme d synchronize d.”

Henr y: “ We gravit ate toward people with a c er t ain kind of voic e and vision. I’m t alking about that moment when we were a lot younger, but we knew that about e ach other. This per son has an individual kind of thing they’re tr ying to do – when you’re young, you like to look for people who want to tr y the things you want to tr y, to find some kind of c omradeship.”

Rosc oe ex tolle d the c ollaboration and c ommunit y that charac terize d the E xperiment al Band and le d to the founding of the Association for the Advanc ement of Cre ative Musicians. “All of the people I love and admire in music have that kind of histor y,” he s aid. “If you look at Duke Ellington and the b and, their ac c omplishments grew out of who they were as individuals and c olle c tively as a group. And it is the s ame with the A ACM. Ever y time I get together with musicians from the A ACM it’s like we are just picking up


17 16

from wherever we lef t of f. So, to me, it’s just a c ontinuation. I think you c an achieve gre at things in music by having these longst anding relationships with people. If you told me b ack then that this thing never stops, I might not have believe d you. But now I se e that’s re ally true.”

Henr y: “People have to st ay engage d in their ar t form, and I think ever y­ one of us has done so. You also have to ke ep in touch. It’s the b asis of friendship. But you have to be c ompletely working at what you do, and that’s why Jack was able to pull ever yone together. We’re doing what we do at a hundre d and fif t y perc ent, and st aye d in some c ont ac t with e ach other.”

The nur turing, and s anc tuar y, as well, provide d by the E xperiment al Band and then A ACM made a life _ or_ de ath dif ferenc e to these improviser s during a tumultuous era in Chic ago, where racial violenc e, segregation and crime fille d ever y day with fe ar and unc er t aint y. Finding good, ste ady gigs outside the s anc tuar y re quire d per sistenc e and imagination; suc c ess, even across var ying genres, was never enough. The gradual transition to focus ­ ing on per sonal proje c ts heralde d a new era in the histor y of jaz z.

Muhal: “If there was something tire d about music, and it dissip ate d, we would have dissip ate d. And we didn’t dissip ate. We de al with what it is. That doesn’t me an you aren’t aware of your surroundings. We were always aware of our surroundings. But we know this: all kinds of people play music. You know what I me an? All around the world. We travel around the world, se e people spe aking dif ferent languages, and they all play music. What phenomenon is that? ”

Music – the human experienc e in its full glor y.

Muhal, again: “Music se ems to thrive on the fac t that it infuses ever y thing and ever ybody. That must be why it spe aks to all kinds of individuals in all walks of life. It must be that impor t ant.”

With Muhal’s enc ouragement, Jack, who’ d made the transition from piano to drums in the year prior, moved to New York Cit y in 1964, coming back for a quick visit as a substitute for Elvin Jones in John Coltrane’s b and for a gig at the “Plugge d Nickel”. Rosc oe re c alle d that Jack aske d Coltrane to let some of his Chic ago friends sit in, “and it was a glorious evening – we were playing together with John Coltrane, Pharo ah Sander s, Alic e Coltrane, and Rashied Ali. We got to play, way past club time. Eventually the club’s owners threw us out. Roy Haynes c ame down and played. It’s a wonder ful memor y.”

Full ye ar s and de c ades ensue d for these improviser s, their cre ative en ­ de avor s now legend and histor y, p ar t of our nation’s cultural fabric. L arr y Gray, another Chic ago native, c atches on to A ACM in his te ens during the e arly 1970s, rises in renown on his instrument in classic al and jaz z circles, and eventually plays with Muhal, Rosc oe and Jack. ( This c onc er t brings L arr y and Henr y together for the fir st time.)

L arr y: “I met Jack in 1994, and we worked on a wonder ful gig for a week, a quintet, again, with a group of legendar y Chic ago jaz z musicians. Von Fre eman, Ira Sullivan and Jodie Christian, so it was a gre at chanc e to know him. He has a close c onne c tion to his histor y, and to all dif ferent t ypes of music, and a c omplete under st anding of his own voic e within that c ontex t. Jack had this de ep love of all these musicians who c ame out of Chic ago be c ause they were his roots.”


Jack put Special “Legends” Edition Chic ago in motion, made c alls. Muhal: “It wasn’t a surprise to me when he s aid that he wante d to do this. It was like, well, we finally got something that we c an do.” Rosc oe: “I knew it would happen eventually.” Henr y: “I c ouldn’t imagine what was in Jack ’s mind. I knew that he would have a plan, but I c ouldn’t enter in to that. So I’ d have to wait and find out what was going to happen. I knew that it was going to be something that would have to work. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m disc ourage d if it doesn’t work. But I have faith in things, that they’ll work.” L arr y: “ When Jack c alled – I couldn’t believe it. He’s been a real model for me – just his at titude and ever y thing else; that spiritualit y he c ommuni ­ c ates. It’s like a roundness, a round thing, a vibration that desc ends upon him. When he solos his eyes are looking up and he’s watching something. I’m always tr ying to c opy that!”

Jack: “ When the oppor tunit y arose, I knew we ne e de d a b assist, and L arr y was the fir st to c ome to mind. As for the rest of us, our c onne c tions st aye d strong. We are always in touch, and look to se e e ach other out on tour. But here was an oc c asion for us to open the festival and go full circle as c omposer s and improviser s. Chic ago Legends! It would be historic to have us all together for a spe cial proje c t, but it would also be validation and c elebration. We’re all senior s now, but still enthusiastic about doing what we c an. The music remains our spiritual food.”

Two days before the c onc er t a day_ long rehe ar s al took plac e at the Jaz z Showc ase, Joe Segal’s renowne d club in the South Loop. Big, over size d photos of jaz z gre ats from the p antheon line the walls of the club. As soon

as the drums were set up and instruments unp acke d, the musicians went right to work, bre aking only for a shor t lunch. Each of the musicians, ex­ c epting L arr y, brought a c omposition in to rehe ar se. The work was fluid, intense. Jack showe d Muhal some chord progressions on the piano for his “Museum of T ime” (title d in homage to visionar y author Jane Rober ts) … Rosc oe and Henr y worke d on the de clining voicings that snap to at tention in Muhal’s “Jack 5” … L arr y working nex t to the piano, Jack watching, as Muhal lif ts “Don’t Go Away” into a swing se c tion.

Af ter a shor t bre ak, Muhal was b ack on piano, Jack on the brushes, tickling all of the drums. By a hidden signal, they de cre ase d the tempo on “Museum of T ime,” and alre ady the five musicians were b ack in a groove, emp athic and fixe d with ex tra c omfor t, that time hadn’t erase d.

The nex t morning, at the venue Constellation on the Nor th Side of Chic a­ go, Muhal playe d piano for ne arly an hour while ever yone set up and un ­ p acke d – classic al études, stride, blues. Some visitor s, too: Jack ’s c ousins Brenda ( “Boo” ) and Ar thur, music journalist Marc Myer s, other s. Rosc oe assemble d a big wooden b ass re c order while Henr y emit te d warm _ up honks in another room. L arr y took turns tuning his b ass and c ello. Ever yone st ar te d looking at the music, knowing there was a tough day ahe ad and e ager to get down to business. They worke d on Henr y’s tune to get the trick y funk sync op ations right, and Henr y danc e d around when it finally sounde d good. A p airing of Henr y on b ass flute and Rosc oe on soprano s a x sounde d be autiful. During the lunch bre ak Muhal c ontinue d to play piano – Rachmaninof f? – and then they finishe d working on “Museum of


21 20

T ime” af ter lunch. Muhal: “ That was on it.” And then Muhal, again, later, to all: “ There are no songs! Either you play this or that, then that’s ar t. It’s not a song.” At ne arly 6 p. m., having finishe d a gorgeous run _through of Rosc oe’s “ This,” the Edition re _visite d “Jack 5” and playe d its hardest, best and most explosive jaz z of the day. O ver six hour s of rehe ar s al has elapse d, and to put on an exclamation point on the ef for t, Jack finishe d the rehe ar s al with a power ful, trademark drum solo. When he was done, Muhal fac e d him and s aid, “ Thank you, Jack. I’m proud of you. You’re always looking down the ro ad and for ward in terms of music.”

Spe cial “Legends” Edition Chic ago took the st age of the Jay Prit zker Pavilion in Millennium Park on August 29, 2013 just as dusk was beginning to fall and the lights on the ne arby sk yscraper s turne d on. The notorious dragon’s bre ath of the Midwest summer was thank fully absent – temps st aye d in the 80s – and thre atene d thunder storms roile d elsewhere. The mayor’s of fic e delivere d a frame d proclamation announcing that it was of fi ­ cially “Jack De Johnet te Day” in the fair Cit y of Chic ago, which flabbergaste d one native son and truly impresse d the 10, 000 other s in at tendanc e.

Then it was time to play – together, finally, af ter so many ye ar s – and grasp ever y thing, again, use it all.


Pro duc e d by Dave Love and Jac k De Johnet te Re c ording engine er: Mar tin Walter s

Assist ant engine er s: Jeremiah Nave, Daniel S antiago Re c orde d live August 29, 2013

at the Prit zker Pavilion Millennium Park Chic ago at the 35th Annual Chic ago Jaz z Festival Sp onsore d by Chic ago’s Dep ar tment O f Cultur al Af fair s & Sp e cial Event s

Pro gr amming in p ar t by the Jaz z Institute O f Chic ago Tour manager: Ken Jablonski

Mixe d at Avat ar Studio, New York by Manfre d Eic her, Jac k De Johnet te and James A . Farb er (engine er) Mastere d at MSM Studios, Münc hen by Christoph Stic kel

Photos: Paul Natkin Design: S asc ha K leis

E xe cutive pro duc er: Manfre d Eic her An ECM Pro duc tion

> < 2015 ECM Re c ords GmbH Post fac h 600 331, 81203 Münc hen w w w. e cmre c ords. c om


Jac k De Johnet te p er for ms exc lusi vel y w i th Sonor Dr ums, S abi an Cy mb als and V ic Fir th s tic ks and Korg Key b o ards. Henr y T hre adgill app e ar s c our te sy of Pi Re c ords. Tr ansp or t ation prov ide d by Celebr ation Limousine s Hotel Ac c ommo d ations prov ide d by Hotel A lle gro A rc hi v is t: T hom as St aud ter

Man agement: Montuno Pro duc tions A mer ic a LLC

Sp e c i al re c o gni tion to follow ing p e ople for their supp or t of this proje c t: E xe c u ti ve Dire c tor L auren Deu t sc h and T he Jaz z Ins ti tu te O f Chic ago. Mic helle Bo one, A ngel Ys aguire, Jenni fer Washing ton and C ar los Tor tolero of the Chic ago Dep ar tment of Cul tur al Af fair s & Sp e c i al Event s.

Mayor Rahm Em anuel for the wonder ful Pro c l am ation O f Re c o gni tion. Day n a C alderon, Er in Mie sner and Joseph Fer nic ol a for your pro duc tion exp er tise at Millennium Par k. Tr ansp or t ation Sp e c i alis t and Pi anis t Gre g Temple for get ting us w here we ne e de d to b e. T he Jaz z Showc ase and Cons tell ation for prov iding the sp ac e s to prep are for our p er for m anc e.

Lydi a, Brend a and A r thur for their love and supp or t in Chic ago.

Manfre d, Steve, Guido and S ar ah for the opp or tuni t y to pre sent our music. Dave and Dani for t ak ing c are of busine s s.

Esp e c i all y to the Ci t y of Chic ago’s gre ate s t amb as s ador s of Jaz z, my long _time fr iends and music al brother s w ho I am always gr ateful to c oll ab or ate w i th: Muh al Ric h ard A br ams, Rosc o e Mi tc hell, Henr y T hre adgill and L ar r y Gr ay.

Jac k De Johnet te

Jac k De Johnet te’s Made In C hic ago was supp or te d by New Music USA , m ade p os sib le by annu al pro gr am supp or t and / or endow ment gi f t s from the Helen F. Whi t aker Fund, A aron Copl and Fund for Music, Mar y Fl agler C ar y Ch ar i t able Tr us t.


ECM 2392 378 0935


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