Special Edition -Jack DeJohnette (ECM)
Considering the line-up on this disc- -drummer DeJohnette,, alto saxist Arthur Blythe and tenor saxist and bass clarinetist David Murray, and bassist Peter Warren--you would have thought it would have been a significant breakthrough record, one of those legendary sessions that chart new directions in the art. This ensemble, though, had no intentions of blazing any new trails, as the music stays safely within the boundaries of what we’ve heard before. He sustains the confident tone through the wildest stretches of his soloing, an unpredictable style that finds nuance and unexpected inroads in a solo space.
Blythe, on the other hand, exploits the alto sax for all it's worth, often changing moods from the whimsical and lyrical to the soulfully anguished. DeJohnette plays solidly under their playing, rumbling like Philly Joe Jones one moment, accentuating hard-rock bass·drums another, and continual-ly fragmenting and piecing back together rhythms as the music flow onward.
Bassist Warren seems the odd man. This isn't to say that this record lacks spark. Special Edition is fresh and lively, highlighting first·rate at the hands of Blythe and Murray. Throughout the disc, their instruments join in a variety of harmonic settings-the fusion-tinged "One For Eric," the rhythm and blues riff of "Zoot Suit," the ethereal texturizing on John Coltrane‘s tone poem "Indian-and at key points branch out to establish their own personalities. Murray, alternating between tenor sax and bass clarinet, offers a strong, out here, maintaining a fairly conservative attitude as he backs the others dutifully, which is to say, with vim, vigor, vitality.