Jazz CD Reviews

DEJOHNETTE & FRISELL – The Elephant Sleeps but Still Remembers – Jack DeJohnette, drums and piano; Bill Frisell, guitar and banjo – Golden Beams

A compendium of inter-galactic sounds that would have charmed Roland Kirk

Published on May 10, 2006

DEJOHNETTE & FRISELL – The Elephant Sleeps but Still Remembers – Jack DeJohnette, drums and piano; Bill Frisell, guitar and banjo – Golden Beams
DEJOHNETTE & FRISELL – The Elephant Sleeps but Still Remembers – Jack DeJohnette, drums and piano; Bill Frisell, guitar and banjo – Golden Beams Productions GBP-CD-1116, 61:27 ***:

There is only one word to describe this CD: quirky. The pieces range from compelling to what’s-this-doing-here? There are playful cuts, like Cat and Mouse and One Tooth Shuffle, in which DeJohnette and Frisell construct off-beat clangy music reminiscent of late-eighties Tom Waits. Frisell’s banjo sometimes sounds like a Gamelan instrument. Cartune Riots uses shards of synthesized sound that are chirpy, squeaky and brief, a compendium of inter-galactic sounds that would have charmed Rahsaan Roland Kirk in his heyday.

The title cut must be a warm-up piece to this live concert, because it never takes off in showing the players’ considerable chops. It has a minimalist feel at times, trailing off in a welter of half-developed ideas. Through the Warphole has a nice psychedelic retro feel and sounds great with headphones. Otherworldly Dervishes features DeJohnette doing some mean drum accompaniment to Frisell’s Clapton-like guitar. It works. Most notable is the lyrical and secular hymnal, Ode to South Africa. It’s filled with wondrous positive energy. Then there are DeJohnette’s piano pieces, which are—I don’t quite know how to say this—sweet. Storm Clouds and the Mist, and After the Rain seem to be about the weather and harken back to the early days of George Winston and the birth of hot-tub jazz. DeJohnette can certainly stroke the keys, but he never tickles or attacks them. A CD guaranteed to get your friends’ heads tilting.

- Peter Bates
 




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