Unlike many renowned drummers, Jack DeJohnette did not take up drumming until he was 18 years only. Before then, he had been playing the piano since age four.
Despite his late entry, he would not let anything hold him back from becoming the best drummer everyone would later talk about.
Jack DeJohnette may have been lucky to get an early stint with Chicago avant-garde institution, the Association for Advancement of Creativity Musicians. He was able to get live performance with John Coltrane that pushed him further up.
As a pianist transition to drumming, it had been a bit difficult, but he understood music, making it much easier. So, when he performed with John, it was only a way of proving he could take on more significant responsibilities.
And his persistence bore fruits when he got a position in Charles Lloyd’s chart-topping quartet. Hence, he was able to grow his skills even better. He took every opportunity to create music that would impress every listener across the globe.
Before, long the drummer had already developed his own style, hitting as though everything was flowing in his blood, encouraged drum rolls.
Eventually, he landed a gig with Miles Davis as the trumpeter was preparing to release the 1970s fusion landmark “Bitches Brew.” And Jack loved this opportunity as he would late indicate “… it was great playing with Miles … Miles loved drums,” in an interview with Jazz.com in 2009.
He never stopped appreciating those who gave him an opportunity to grow, as he also complemented Miles for attaching everything to drums. “He like boxing … and he saw jazz as having similar traits.”
Jack was not only a drummer; he also a bandleader and a composer. Everything around him seemed to hold a message, and he used that in his compositions.
Also, this allowed him to create instrumental music that sounded like vocals. They were perfectly arranged and held emotion, easy to transcribe by the listener.
He had a unique way of approaching drums that made it seem like they were talking back at him. And it was his subtlety that made him an excellent asset for jazz drumming. He was always keen on the styles he played and worked towards creating a new feeling in the music.
His smooth grooves made all who listened feel like there was nothing more they needed.
Jack had learned A.A.C.M. – honed experimentation, which he combined with the integrity he learned from Coltrane, as well as Davis’s pugilistic groove that made him unstoppable.
He did not stop there, though; he continued developing his own innate knack for turning a memorable tune. In the few years that followed, he becomes one of the most admired drummers around.
One thing that made Jack become a force to reckon with was his innovativeness that led him to create incredible grooves. He was always ready to build something new from scratch, and his studio moments were always memorable. Whenever he was behind the drums, he knew how to manipulate new groves.