A blistering live set, recorded in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2004, with music originally presented under the rubric “Lifetime and Beyond: Celebrating Tony Williams.” Project initiator Jack DeJohnette replaced his good friend Tony Williams in the Miles Davis group in 1969, when Williams left to launch Lifetime, the explosive and short-lived group that had a powerful impact at the dawn of electric jazz. Although jazz critics comprehended Lifetime’s achievement only retrospectively, the band’s confrontational cross-referencing of jazz improvisational fluency and rock dynamics was enormously influential amongst musicians. Only “Bitches Brew”, which paved the way for diverse progressive jazz-funk hybrids, was as highly regarded by players at the time.
Trio Beyond echoes the instrumental format – organ/guitar/drums – of Lifetime, as Larry Goldings, John Scofield and Jack DeJohnette revisit material once played by Larry Young, John McLaughlin and Tony Williams. Thus “Emergency” and “Spectrum” are drawn from Lifetime’s first disc, while Coltrane’s “Big Nick” and Larry Young’s “Allah Be Praised” were part of the repertoire on the follow-up “Turn It Over”. However, in rounding out this portrait, DeJohnette, Scofield and Goldings also retrace the path of Tony Williams, going back to his early days with Miles Davis. “Seven Steps To Heaven” was one of the first pieces that the then 17-year-old Williams played with the great trumpeter, recording it on the album of the same name in 1963 and, soon afterwards, on several live discs (“Miles In St Louis”, “Four and More”). The standard “I Fall In Love Too Easily” was also part of Miles’s book in the early 1960s, recorded on the “Seven Steps” album and, again, two years later on the “Plugged Nickel” sessions. “Pee Wee” is a piece Williams wrote for the Davis group, and recorded on “Sorcerer” in 1967 in the classic 60s Davis group with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter.
Trio Beyond also looks fleetingly at Larry Young’s “Unity” recording of 1965, an important pre-Lifetime statement (with Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw). “If” comes from this source.
The rest of the material, composed and/or improvised by the trio members, includes Larry Goldings’s “As One”, which launches the sequence that includes Larry Young’s “Allah Be Praised” and the collective piece “Saudades”; on CD 2, “Love In Blues” which flowers out of “I Fall In Love Too Easily”, is also a group improvisation.
Jack DeJohnette: “The idea for this trio came out of conversations that John Scofield and I had regarding how important Tony Williams had been to us both musically and as a band leader. Among other things, his innovative propulsive rhythmic approach and his visionary concept of time and space had been a tremendous influence on us both. John had been playing with Larry Goldings for a while, another admirer of Tony, and we both felt he was the perfect person to round out the trio based on Tony’s Lifetime band.”
Larry Goldings, in fact, had been approached by Tony Williams shortly before the drummer’s untimely death in 1997 (aged just 51) to form a new group in the spirit of Lifetime band, a further musical-historical rationale for Trio Beyond...
“Saudades” marks Goldings’s debut on ECM, although he appeared on Carla Bley’s ECM-distributed WATT recording of 1999, “4 X 4”. Born in Boston, he studied at New York’s Eastman School of Music and the New School for Social Research, with teachers including Ran Blake and Jaki Byard. Goldings honed his craft as an improviser/arranger working as musical director in singer Jon Hendricks’s band. Since then he has worked with everyone from Jim Hall to Madeleine Peyroux, from Maceo Parker to James Taylor. On piano, Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly have been his primary influences but on organ he remains indebted to Larry Young, the single most important figure in leading the jazz organ toward more ‘abstract’ possibilities and beyond blues/shuffle stylings. Goldings has been associated with John Scofield since 1993. He also leads his own trio and quartet, with several recordings on the Palmetto label.
One of jazz’s greatest drummers, Jack DeJohnette has played with very many of the major figures in the music’s history. The list includes John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Keith Jarrett, Chet Baker, Lee Morgan, Charles Lloyd, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and more. For more than 20 years, he has been a member of the immensely popular trio Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette, colloquially known as “the Standards Trio”, while continuing also to lead his own bands. His numerous recordings for ECM display his subtle, powerful playing and the ‘melodic’ approach to drums and cymbals that makes his touch instantly recognisable.
In addition to his work with Jarrett and his albums as a leader, Jack DeJohnette has appeared on ECM recordings with John Surman, John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, Pat Metheny, Ralph Towner, Jan Garbarek, Steve Kuhn, Bill Connors, Miroslav Vitous, Kenny Wheeler, Terje Rypdal, and more...
John Scofield has previously appeared on ECM albums with Marc Johnson – “Bass Desires”, “Second Sight” and, recently, “Shades of Jade”, as well as on Steve Swallow’s XtraWatt album ”Swallow”. Born in Dayton, Ohio, Scofield grew up listening to soul and R& B, but he first came to a wider attention in jazz-rock contexts, playing with Billy Cobham. In the 1970s he was already moving in heavy company, and after stints with Gary Burton and Gerry Mulligan, he recorded with Charles Mingus on “Three or Four Shades of Blues”. He also partnered Tony Williams on several album sessions – including recordings with Chet Baker and with Terumasa Hino. In 1982 Scofield joined Miles Davis, and toured with him for three years. Along the way he has led groups of his own and recorded prolifically; his alliance with saxophonist Joe Lovano, begun at Berklee and resumed in the late 80s, led to a series of highly acclaimed albums for Blue Note. In recent years, Scofield has been consciously reintegrating his formative influences with his improvising capacities, looking again at the possibilitities of soul jazz and groove-based musics and playing with Medeski, Martin, and Wood and other alternate rock players on the ‘jam bands’ scene.
(In addition to celebrating Tony Williams, the album “Saudades” carries a second dedication – to German tour agent Thomas Stöwsand, ECM’s distribution manager in the 1970s - and the cellist on the label’s second release “Just Music”-, Stöwsand left the company two decades ago to form Saudades, which has since become one of Europe’s leading jazz tour agencies. )
Trio Beyond undertakes a major European tour in June and July, with dates in Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Turkey, England and Norway. At the tour’s conclusion DeJohnette stays in Europe for a further round of concerts with Keith Jarrett’s trio.