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Jack DeJohnette & Don Alias: Talking Drummers: A Journey Of Music, Friendship And Spirit

While their paths have crossed in different contexts over the past 27 years-they played together briefly in 1971 in Miles Davis’ band and Jack later hired Don to play traps in his first band as a leader, Compost-these two stellar rhythmagicians have never gotten it together as profoundly as they do on this extraordinary video. Shot entirely at the intimate Make Believe Ballroom Studio located in the rural quietude of Shokan near DeJohnette’s home in upstate New York, “Talking Drummers” documents the spontaneous interaction between two great listening musicians in the course of recording a duet album together.

“The idea was to put us in a roomful of drums and percussion and let us loose,” explains Alias at the outset. The resulting video, shot by Homespun head Artie Traum, conveys a common sense of rhythm, humor and joie de vivre that these two natural drummers share.

While Alias points out that “you would never think of Jack DeJohnette as a hand percussionist,” the great drummer does indeed offer up some serious call and response with Don on conga and djembe drum on Afro-Cuban flavored jams like “African Cowboy” and “Rattle Shake.” As DeJohnette confides, “There’s something about the sensuality of contact with the hand and the head of the drum that makes it very special.”

Jack demonstrates his trademark loose, loping Elvin-esque approach to the kit on “Maximum Concrete Respect” and Alias (who formerly played drums with Nina Simone and on one notorious tour with Joni Mitchell, Metheny, Brecker and Jaco Pastorius) wails with impunity on the traps set on an extended jam-oriented “Tales From The Woods” with Jack on keyboards.

This rhythmic confluence also features talking head testimony by colleagues Michael Brecker, Dave Holland, Pat Metheny and Joachim Larty along with some reminiscing about Miles between the two celebrated drummers. Delightful and insightful.

Originally Published