Su­per­group Hud­son re­flects its cre­ative sur­round­ings

The Georgia Straight - - Music - > ALEXAN­DER VARTY

Jazz su­per­group or best neigh­bour­hood 2 cover band ever? With Hud­son, it’s hard to tell. The reper­toire—jimi Hen­drix’s “Wait Un­til To­mor­row”, the Band’s “Up on Crip­ple Creek”, Bob Dy­lan’s ever-timely “A Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall”—skews to­ward the lat­ter. But you’d have to live in a fairly rar­efied zone to find drum­mer Jack De­johnette, gui­tarist John Scofield, bas­sist Larry Gre­nadier, and key­boardist John Medeski run­ning through ’60s clas­sics in your lo­cal dive bar—un­less you’ve set­tled in the gen­eral vicin­ity of

Wood­stock, New York, like the four mu­si­cians named here.

The re­gion, De­johnette says in a tele­phone in­ter­view with the Ge­or­gia Straight, has the high­est pro­por­tion of artists per capita of any­where in the United States. It’s also been the re­treat of choice for New York City mu­si­cians ever since Dy­lan fled Green­wich Village in the early 1960s, with the drum­mer join­ing that ex­o­dus not long after.

“The But­ter­field Blues Band was up here,” De­johnette ex­plains. “Hen­drix was here; Dy­lan was here. They were im­mersed in this area, and they were here for the same rea­son we were here; it gave us peace of mind and the cre­ative spirit to write and com­pose.”

Hud­son’s self-ti­tled de­but sur­veys 50 years of that Hud­son Val­ley cre­ativ­ity, and there’s a story be­hind ev­ery song. “Crip­ple Creek”, for in­stance, made the cut be­cause of De­johnette’s friend­ship with the late Levon Helm. Two more dif­fer­ent drum­mers would be hard to imag­ine, with De­johnette’s quick­sil­ver polyrhythms the po­lar op­po­site of Helm’s greasy back­beat, but ap­par­ently they hit it off on their first meet­ing, when the Band and Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew–era group shared a dou­ble bill at the Hol­ly­wood Bowl.

“We did some jam­ming,” the drum­mer ex­plains. “And then I got to know Levon and Garth Hud­son for many years. I went to Levon’s Mid­night Ram­ble things at his barn and sat in with him there; he al­ways had an­other set of drums. And Levon was a re­ally soul­ful guy, the way he played and the way he sang; very down-toearth and very au­then­tic.”

Things don’t get much more down-to-earth, how­ever, than they do on De­johnette’s own “Great Spirit Peace Chant”, which speaks to the drum­mer’s roots, as well as the land where he’s put them down. The piece be­gins with a whirl of flutes, and then turns into a First Na­tions chant, re­flect­ing a side of De­johnette that might sur­prise those who know him for his work with African-amer­i­can in­no­va­tors like Davis, Sonny Rollins, and Her­bie Han­cock.

“Our fam­ily was ini­tially in the Seneca Wolf Clan, which is up near the Cat­ta­rau­gus Reser­va­tion near Buf­falo, and I also have Semi­nole Crow in my blood­line,” he ex­plains, adding that this isn’t the first time he’s ex­plored In­dige­nous mu­sic. “I did an al­bum called Mu­sic for the Fifth World some years ago…and a lot of my Na­tive Amer­i­can in­flu­ences are on that, in­spired by my grand­mother Twylah Nitsch. She wrote a book called Other Coun­cil Fires Were Here Be­fore Ours, in which she talks about dif­fer­ent worlds: the first world, sec­ond world, third world, fourth world, and the fifth world, with the fourth world be­ing the world of greed and sep­a­ra­tion, while the fifth world is love and in­te­gra­tion.

“Any­way, the ‘Peace Chant’ came to me just as I was walk­ing around my prop­erty,” De­johnette adds. “The whole thing came to me just like you hear it on the record—all the sounds and ev­ery­thing. It was a gift—a gift from Great Spirit.” Hud­son plays the Chan Cen­tre for the Per­form­ing Arts on Wednesday (Oc­to­ber 18).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.