CONCERT PREVIEW: Jazz supergroup Hudson to visit Ardmore Music Hall

Hudson will be at Ardmore Music Hall on Oct. 11.
Hudson will be at Ardmore Music Hall on Oct. 11. PHOTOS BY NICK SUTTLE

IF YOU GO

What: Hudson

When: Concert is at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11; doors open at 6:30.

Where: Ardmore Music Hall, 23 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore

Tickets: $40 – $55

Ages: 21+

Info.: Visit www.ardmoremusic.com or call 610-649-8389

Artist’s Website: www.jackdejohnette.com

Hudson, the jazz quartet that released their eponymous debut album (Motéma, 2017) in June, will visit Ardmore Music Hall on Oct. 11. The group was founded by legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette and includes bassist Larry Grenadier, keyboardist John Medeski and guitarist John Scofield.

They named the band Hudson because the four musicians live in the Hudson River Valley in New York. They first performed together at a one-off concert at the Woodstock Jazz Festival in 2014.

Last year DeJohnette decided he wanted to do something special for his 75th birthday, which was Aug. 9 of this year. So he contacted Grenadier, Medeski and Scofield and asked them if they wanted to reunite to record and tour. The all-star musicians made time in their busy schedules to do so.

“I listened to some of the music from (our Woodstock Jazz Festival) concert and thought it would be cool to get together and play some original music, do some cover songs, play some grooves… and everybody said ‘yeah,’” said DeJohnette in a telephone interview from his office in upstate New York. “So we went in the studio for 5 days at the beginning of this year and we recorded a lot of great music, some of which got on the album. Some we still have in reserve.”

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The Hudson album features 11 tracks. They include 3 of DeJohnette’s original compositions, 2 of Scofield’s compositions, 1 group composition and 5 covers of Woodstock-area and Woodstock Festival artists.

“We really wanted to do originals and cover tunes of artists who were living in the Hudson Valley and around Woodstock for the Woodstock Festival – Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Band and Joni Mitchell, who didn’t make it (to the festival) but she wrote a beautiful tune called ‘Woodstock,’ which we covered.”

The other chosen cover songs are “Lay Lady Lay” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (Dylan), “Wait Until Tomorrow” (Hendrix) and “Up on Cripple Creek,” which was written by Robbie Robertson and recorded by The Band.

DeJohnette stressed that even though he’s the elder statesman of the band he’s not the ‘boss.’

“It’s a collective group,” said DeJohnette. “I just said ‘hey, let’s get together’ but we all chose the tunes. Scoville and I sort of picked the tunes. Everybody else said ‘ok, yeah, that’s cool.’”

DeJohnette and Scoville have a long-standing professional relationship that spans nearly 40 years.

“John and I have an ability to communicate on the bandstand and in the studio that is unique to us alone,” said DeJohnette.

Scoville is the link between all 3 bandmates; he has also collaborated with Grenadier and Medeski separately in other projects.

“I am always inspired by the process of creating music with people who have a broad musical vocabulary,” said DeJohnette. “This can come from either years of experience or from the youthfulness and courageous spirit of a younger musician. The music of Hudson takes us in a variety of directions, and this is always an exciting journey.”

DeJohnette’s musical training started at a young age.

“I played (piano) in high school. I also played double bass for a little bit,” said DeJohnette. “After a semester I went into the drum department. I had a combo and the drummer left his drums in my basement.

“My uncle was a jazz DJ. He was very much into jazz and because of him I was into jazz. I had access to the records and I heard the Ahmad Jamal Trio [‘At the Pershing: But Not for Me’ (Chess, 1958)] and that trio influenced me on drums. Vernell Fornier was the drummer. And when I heard him I really wanted to play drums. So I started playing drums and piano in Chicago, where I was born and raised.”

Over the course of his career DeJohnette has had the opportunity to perform and record with some of the most significant names in jazz including Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Tony Williams and Keith Jarrett, just to name a few. He has established himself as a ‘drummer’s drummer’ and has influenced countless musicians.

And just because he has turned 75 it doesn’t signal the end of his musical career, though he said “I tell people musicians are always semi-retired because sometimes when the gigs come we’re working and when they’re not you take time off.”

Yet DeJohnette seems to have a busy schedule recording and touring with several musical projects.

“I just recorded an album on ECM [‘Blue Maqams,’ 2017] with an amazing composer and oud player from Tunisia – Anouar Brahem, with (bassist) Dave Holland and the pianist Django Bates. And there will be some dates here and there with (bassist) Matthew Garrison and (saxophonist) Ravi Coltrane. I also have a solo piano album [‘Return,’ 2016] out on vinyl on a label called Newvelle Records.”

As for the future of Hudson, DeJohnette says “We’ll take it one step at a time. Let’s get people to buy this record.”

He added: “I hope we get a lot of people to come out and see us.”