Jack DeJohnette, Michael Cain, and Steve Gorn stretch out on five cuts, spinning over seventy minutes of new-age-space-jazz explorations. Pianist, Michael Cain, and woodwinds player, Steve Gorn, are both well known for their meditative, altered consciousness music. DeJohnette, drummer/percussionist, mostly know for jazz, proves once again that he won’t be pigeonholed. His exemplary musicality allows him to crossover any genre boundary. But this doesn’t mean Cain and Gorn are limited in their stylistic scope. All three display their versatility which is why this album expresses a range of emotions deftly accomplished through multiple techniques and articulate musicianship. The first cut takes you through the thin air of the stratosphere, then down into the depths of the lightless abyssopelagic zone. Abstract jazz elements contrast with sparser transits; the whole takes you for a round-trip harmonic journey transported on a rhythmic carriage. With no destination, the journey is its own reward. Each of the first three cuts expose you to different chromatic horizons. The last two cuts settle more squarely into jazz, yet the entire CD holds together. There are no disjointed numbers thrown in just to fill up time.
The album works equally well as ambient music as it does close-your-eyes-and-listen music. You can put it on in the background to enjoy, or take it on a focussed listening trip. Not all music is capable of this. Some needs attention to be appreciated, and some hasn’t the complexity to hold one’s attention for extended listening.
If I haven’t appeared to rave enough, it’s because Jack, Michael, and Steve haven’t created one of those rare one-of-a-kind masterpieces in Dancing With Nature Spirits, and yet, the music keeps calling me back, pulling me in. I can’t ignore it. It has something stronger than in-your-face wow power. There’s a penetrating softness of strength in their collective interaction that’s compelling. It convinces the mind to dance with them.
(||) Rating — Music : A ║ Performance : A ║ Recording : A ║ Jack DeJohnette, Michael Cain & Steve Gorn, Dancing With Nature Spirits, ECM, 1996
Also see a previous review of a more recent DeJohnette release : [Jack D].