Jack DeJohnette’s Oneness Quartet with Bennie Maupin

You know him as a drummer, but Jack DeJohnette didn’t start with the skins until he was 18; growing up in postwar Chicago, he played the piano. That–and probably working behind Keith Jarrett in Charles Lloyd’s mid-60s quartet–left him with a melodic sense that colors his drumming in wonderful and surprising ways. For me the key to DeJohnette’s style is the cymbals. He uses them to outline his exacting yet unexpected rhythms and to shower the music with sudden vibrant storms; they seem to command and constrain the raw power of the rest of the kit. Motile and motivic, DeJohnette’s drumming leads as often as it supports, making him one of the most recognizable percussionists in jazz. Nevertheless, the band he brings to Chicago this time may be the greater draw, with the intrepid bassist and guitarist Jerome Harris, the sprightly and inventive pianist Michael Cain, and reedman Bennie Maupin, who hasn’t appeared here in God knows how long. Few modern musicians have made as much quiet history as Maupin, yet surprisingly few modern listeners know his name. He worked in Lee Morgan’s high-profile band of the early 1970s and, while still in his 20s, contributed to two of the best-known fusion albums ever recorded, playing bass clarinet on Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew (which also featured DeJohnette) and a whole raft of reeds on Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters. DeJohnette’s band headlines the 20th annual Jazz Fair, organized by the Jazz Institute of Chicago (on whose board this writer sits); other highlights of the six-band bill are saxist Chico Freeman fronting a band with bassist Fred Hopkins and a combo led by guitarist Henry Johnson and reedist Eric Schneider. The event starts at 6 PM; the DeJohnette quartet goes on at 9:30. Monday, Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe; 312-427-1676. NEIL TESSER

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Deborah Feingold.