1 Jack DeJohnette
A thrill to hear the great Chicagoan, always. Out of the AACM and ex-Charles Lloyd, Miles Davis, standards, avant garde, rocking the room – he can do it all.
In the last five years for example there has been loads going on. Sound Travels for instance was released, one of DeJohnette’s most formidable albums in years, a Robert Sadin-produced affair with the band’s size swelling and contracting to suit Jack’s arrangements. ‘Dirty Ground’ with a vocal from Bruce Hornsby was the most accessible, with a “New Orleans-meets-The Band" vibe, and a great down home shuffle from Jack who co-wrote the song with the man DeJohnette in the notes refers to as ‘The Bruce’. Rolling Stones saxophonist Tim Ries addded great soprano sax on the song, and the George Benson and Franco-inspired guitarist Lionel Loueke showed his range with some funky licks on a tune the lyric of which points to the need in New Orleans or anywhere for that matter not to give up or for that matter give in. There was even a lovely spot from Bobby McFerrin on ‘Oneness’ written for Gateway, a band DeJohnette actually reconvened for a one-off gig in his home town of Chicago.
Sitting chatting to him in an interview for Radio 3 one time was a thrill and an education. Sound Travels was only one part of what DeJohnette has been involved with over this decade and ECM slipped out a beautiful four-CD box set Special Edition, which collected the output of DeJohnette’s band of the same name between 1979 and 1984 spread over four albums Special Edition, Tin Can Alley, Inflation Blues, and Album Album.
Fine, nuanced, spirited, free form and original in terms of writing and performance, you’ll hear highlights in this set that include David Murray brilliantly wild and fresh on the two albums he’s featured on, and Chico Freeman’s characterful bluesiness on such marvellously raucous numbers as ‘I Know’ on Tin Can Alley where the music opens up and ‘out’ becomes ‘in’. Jack DeJohnette as a member of the Keith Jarrett Standards trio features on After the Fall blowing people away all over the place myself included this year.
2 Roy Haynes
Last of the bebop greats. All 20 of these players are on Mount Olympus and stand on the shoulders of many giants collectively.
3 Terri Lyne Carrington
Composition and a sense of song are crucial in the TLC artistic profile as is huge technical skill as a drummer.
4 Jimmy Cobb
On Kind of Blue. Just three very significant century changing words of an album title.
5 Jeff 'Tain' Watts
With Branford he was in one of the best acoustic quartets since the 1960s. The chieftain, still.
6 Eric Harland
An Elvin Jones for our times.
7 Nasheet Waits
Son of Freddie: powers the Bandwagon.
8 Jon Christensen
Belonging Band poet of the kit.
9 Billy Cobham
Hugely influential jazz-rock monster, Massive Attack owe him a big debt. And we all owe BC for mucho jazz life AD and for gifting the world Red Baron among other classics.
10 Brian Blade
Wayne Shorter drummer par excellence.
11 Andrew Cyrille
Free jazz icon and hero.
12 Tyshawn Sorey
Hugely influential on the US avant garde scene as a conceptualist and thinker who packs a visceral punch.
13 Tony Allen
Afrobeat innovations feed directly into jazz. His recent Blakey album was excellent.
14 Herlin Riley
Wynton's best ever drummer.
15 Marcus Gilmore
Superb in the Vijay Iyer trio. Very open style.
16 Vinnie Colaiuta
A revelation in recent years with Herbie Hancock, feverish and compulsive. Inspires cult-like devotion from other drummers and understandably so.
17 Dennis Chambers
Monstrous with John McLaughlin back in the day.
18 Cindy Blackman Santana
Check out her Muse albums. Code Red etc, and work with Lenny Kravitz as well as currently with hubbie Carlos Santana.
19 Kendrick Scott
On the classic Flow with Terence Blanchard (who has written the music for the new Spike Lee film, making waves in the news). A modest master at work whose own albums are fine, sometimes mellow, sometimes a riot of rhythm.
20 Chris ('Daddy') Dave
Most significant drummer to emerge since Jeff Tain Watts. He has created his own sound forged from the pulse of hip hop and spliced it with bebop and neosoul.