Drumming genius: Jack DeJohnette of the
Ivey Divey Trio.
for the Ages
The Ivey Divey Trio
Egg, March 24
Having known a man named Ken Eglin has enhanced my past 25
years of attending live-music performances. He was born in
Cambridge, Mass., in 1916 and died at the Veterans Administration
Hospital in Boston in 1984. I knew him during the last years
of his life when he lived at a nursing home where I was working.
His love of music was so complete, so enduring and sustaining
that I regularly brought him recorded music to hear. While
I already had free-ranging tastes in music, Ken was miles
beyond me. He’d listen to everything I’d play him, most of
it contemporary, and some considerably over-the-edge for my
own peers. He would find the elements that moved him in whatever
he was hearing: jazz, blues, soul and swing. He wanted music
that was in-the-moment and emotional.
I miss Ken. I can imagine him being delighted by last Friday’s
concert of the Ivey Divey Trio featuring Don Byron, Jack DeJohnette
and Jason Moran. Harking back to Lester Young’s bassless trio
with Buddy Rich and Nat “King” Cole, Byron assembled this
trio last year for his album Ivey-Divey. Though they
came of age in different decades, these three men share a
similarly restless sense of exploration, and have sympathetically
matched aesthetic sensibilities.
All three of them, as players on their own, have formidable
skills and powers of invention. The dynamics that each one
of them employed were impressive: Byron’s clarinet could go
from the whispered breaths passing through noteless exhalations
to birdlike trills and upper-register wails that leapt across
centuries and continents.
Having DeJohnette on hand made for a rare evening (he wasn’t
a part of concerts here and abroad last year, but, perhaps
since he lives in the Woodstock area, geography made this
possible). There were dazzling complexities in the rhythmic
beds he’d create, out of which would spring gently explosive
moments of rollicking character, like frisky sea mammals skittering
across ice and splashing into roiling waters. He also deserves
commendations for the nuanced dramatics that ended each of
the night’s six selections. Whenever you’re fortunate to be
at a performance that includes Jack DeJohnette, play close
attention to his endings!
Drums and piano anchored the left and right of the stage in
the Swyer Theatre, with Byron free to move about. During passages
when either of the other two was soloing, he’d retreat toward
the rear of the stage, listening intently. At one point, as
Moran wound down, Byron reentered the composition, playing
his clarinet into the geometric space of the raised-lid grand
piano and being picked up by the mics inside.
Though the two sets included a mere six pieces, it was a stunning
range that showed the breadth, as well as the connection between
the composers. The first set started with Gershwin’s “Somebody
Loves Me,” the second with Miles Davis’ and Joe Zawinul’s
“In a Silent Way/It’s About Time.” The night showed that great
songs provide context for players to be in the same place
at the same time, calling on a language that is purely musical.