Live Review, 9/5/12: The Jack DeJohnette Trio Plays With One Mind at Yoshi's SF

The Jack DeJohnette Trio, featuring Chick Corea and Stanley Clarke

Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012

Yoshi's S.F.

Better than: The drum solo in Led Zeppelin's “Moby Dick,” and probably any drum solo in any rock song, ever.

One expects great things from the live performance of a trio led by someone like Jack DeJohnette, a drum luminary who's played with Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and too many other jazz titans to name. But there was a moment onstage at Yoshi's last night when DeJohnette — who's celebrating his 70th birthday with this tour — fell into a magical section with bassist Stanley Clarke that blew up even our vague expectations.

It was the climax of the trio's rendition of McCoy Tyner's “Passion Dance,” where, for a few moments, Clarke and DeJohnette seemed to be playing from the same brain. Bass and drums often feel, at their best, like an extension of the other. But here, as Clarke wriggled out quick phrases, his fingers dancing up the neck of his stand-up bass, DeJohnette matched him almost note for note, tossing out snare rolls and tom taps in eerie unison. The section felt like a musical expression of a gleeful shudder, or like getting ants in your pants: Clarke flitted from the top of his instrument to the bottom in quick bursts, his face frozen and elongated in a lost expression. As he'd done all evening, DeJohnette snatched the architecture of the rhythm out of thin air, all the more impressive because Clarke's contribution suggested almost nothing in the way of tempo.

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