Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Jack DeJohnette is not content with being an excellent jazz drummer. Since the late '60s, DeJohnette, a veteran of the Miles Davis and Charles Lloyd groups and of myriad recording sessions, has endeavored to present his own distinctive concepts in small-group jazz.
The latest edition of DeJohnette's Directions (DeJohnette, drums, piano; Lester Bowie, trumpet; John Abercrombie, Guitar; Eddie Gomez, bass) appeared Sunday night at the Cellar Door. It differs from the dummer's past ensembles mainly because of Bowie. A member of the jazz trumpet lineage that includes the late Rex Stewart and Miles Davis, Bowie had a blues-rich vocal conception on his instrument. Most of the time, his ideas along these lines come off quite well, and he also is capable of other things, such as up-tempo playing reminiscent of Davis circa 1967.
Most of the focus was on Bowie, leaving his cohorts, all top-rank jazz men, in primarily subordinate roles. Abercrombie and Gomez, both multifaceted musicians, were principally limited to running the four-minute mile during their solos which they expectedly did quite well.
Most of Directions' music was unplanned, but toward the end of the first set, DeJohnette moved to piano and eased the quartet into a gentle 12/8 ballad. Both he and Abercrombie then got to display their lyrical sides.