“I always wanted to just be free—to do what I feel like, but also to be dedicated to the music, be inspired, and do it with a passion, which I still strongly have.”

Last September, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola in New York City hosted a tribute to producer, writer, and record label founder Orrin Keepnews. The late man-about-Manhattan was an important figure in the combustible jazz circles of the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and beyond, giving many future jazz greats a voice on his Riverside, Milestone, and Landmark record labels.

The two musical groups assembled for the evening featured the crème de la crème of New York jazz royalty. The large Sonor Hilite drumset positioned at center stage set pulses racing for the headliner. A swinging performance by the trio of bassist Ray Drummond, drummer Akira Tana, and pianist Larry Willis broke the ice. Then Willis, saxophonist Gary Bartz, bassist Rufus Reid, and drummer Jack DeJohnette took the stage. “When I first came to New York,” DeJohnette told the crowd from behind his drums, “Orrin asked me to come up with a concept for a record, and I did. I had Roy Haynes and Stanley Cowell on the record, which was called The DeJohnette Complex. No one else would give me the time of day, but Orrin was right there, supporting me. He loved the music; he was open. He really made a great contribution.”

The quartet played a hard-charging, tempo-terrifying, bloodletting version of “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing.” DeJohnette drove the music with the same fury, fire, and rolling-thunder grace that he had on his 1969 debut.

Forty-eight years after The DeJohnette Complex, the seventy-five-year-old, soft-spoken, Chicago-born DeJohnette is one of the great acknowledged masters of the drumset. And he remains as forward-thinking and innovative a force as he was as a young musician, when he meshed the drum music of Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, and Tony Williams with his potent, multidirectional, intensely conversational and poetic exhilarations.

Tracing this drummer’s history is taking a trip through jazz profundity. After making his mark in the mid-’60s with the popular Charles Lloyd Quartet, DeJohnette became an in-demand sideman, cutting serious vinyl sides with Jackie McLean, Dick Katz, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, and Bill Evans; his work with Evans was further documented on recently unearthed live and studio performances released by Resonance Records. In 1969 DeJohnette replaced Tony Williams in Miles Davis’s band, first appearing on the landmark album Bitches Brew, then as a member of “the Lost Quintet” (celebrated in the recent CD/DVD box set Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2). DeJohnette’s burning, churning funk fusillades exuded grit and grease, propelled by earlier Chicago avant-garde experiments with the likes of Sun Ra and Roscoe Mitchell.

DeJohnette’s early training as a pianist brought him to record his first solo album in 1968, followed by a series of exceptional ’70s and ’80s releases on the ECM label: Untitled, Pictures, New Rags, New Directions, Special Edition, New Directions in Europe, Tin Can Alley, Inflation Blues, and Album Album. DeJohnette has continued to break new ground up to the present, releasing albums that feature diverse thematic material (as well as his husky baritone vocals), while also recording and touring with the celebrated Keith Jarrett Trio. In 2016, DeJohnette returned to ECM with In Movement, a trio recording with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane and bassist Matthew Garrison, and he went back to his piano roots with the solo release Return on the vinyl-only Newvelle label.

DeJohnette’s latest project is the jazz supergroup Hudson. Featuring guitarist John Scofield, keyboardist John Medeski, and bassist Larry Grenadier, Hudson lets DeJohnette stretch as drummer, composer, and vocalist. MD took the pleasant two-hour drive up to Jack’s home in upstate New York to learn more about the music—and the land—that inspires his newest direction in sound.


MD: What is the focus of the Hudson band?

Jack: Larry, Scofield, Medeski, and I all live in the Hudson Valley. We got together initially to play the Woodstock Jazz Festival, and we did some cover tunes, including Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” We had such a good time playing together, I thought it would be great to celebrate my seventy-fifth year by making a record and touring the U.S., which we’re doing from June to October.

We live up here because of the people, the land, the vibe. It’s a great place to create. We wanted tunes that grooved, cover tunes and originals, and we thought the cover tunes should connect to the Woodstock area. So we picked artists who’d played the original Woodstock Festival in 1969: Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix, as well as tunes from the Band and Bob Dylan [who famously rehearsed and recorded together in the area]. The title tune is a collective composition, “Hudson.” And then there are original tunes from Scofield and me.

MD: Your last record with John, Trio Beyond’s 2006 live release, Saudades, was a killing performance.

Jack: Right. That was a loose tribute to Tony Williams.

MD: Hudson’s version of “Woodstock” is moody and dark. Did the band mean to imply a protest vibe with the song choices?

Jack: We liked the lyrics of [Bob Dylan’s] “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” and the other cover songs have elements of protest, but we chose them because we like the songs. My “Song for World Forgiveness” says that we really must learn to forgive each other; that’s our species’ hardest dilemma. There’s been a tremendous amount of bad karmic stuff that we’ve all done to each other, all the countries, throughout history. For us to become more enlightened, forgiveness has to happen—instead of this polarized energy that is going around, giving people the illusion that they’re separate. We can’t build walls. That’s over.

MD: Scofield’s “Tony Then Jack” addresses the progression from Tony Williams to you in Miles Davis’s band?

Jack: Yes. We first played that with Trio Beyond, but we never recorded it.

MD: The album opens with a groove, like a 1970s Bitches Brew vibe.

Jack: Absolutely. We all loved that one. It’s a collective track, really a jam. Scofield just started playing that groove, and it took off from there. It was organic.

MD: Hudson’s take on “Woodstock” is almost sad.

Jack: It’s a feel based off one of John Coltrane’s tunes—we approached it like a Latin “A Love Supreme.” “Dirty Ground” has an interesting relevance as well. It was cowritten with Bruce Hornsby and originally recorded for my 2012 album, Sound Travels. Bruce wrote the lyrics; I did the arrangement. It was originally dedicated to Levon Helm. I’m singing on this version. It’s in 7/4 and 4/4. It’s got that Levon thing, so the first thing you think of is him. [sings] “Dirtied up water, feel like lambs going to slaughter, been down on my knees but I’m rising up. I got to believe.” It’s about the flood victims of Hurricane Katrina, so it talks about rising up and coming back.

MD: Hudson’s version of “Hard Rain” is in 6/4. Then the band takes it out.

Jack: But it’s very subtle. It’s not angry. It’s lucid. The nature of the lyrics led to our expanding on it improvisationally. Dylan talks about all of that in the lyrics, so we did a jazz interpretation of that. There’s a tribute to Sun Ra in there as well.

MD: On Hendrix’s “Wait Until Tomorrow,” the band uses the melody as the jumping-off point for improvisation?

Jack: No. I actually tried to sing that song, but my voice was messed up. So I asked Sco to do an instrumental version. We also did a version of [Hendrix’s] “Castles Made of Sand” that’s a bonus track overseas. I sing the last verse.

Jack Swings, Jack Sings

MD: You sing on the two Compost records from the 1970s. What other records do you sing on?

Jack: My Music for the Fifth World—I sang “Witchi-Tai-To,” a Jim Pepper song. I sang “Inflation Blues” on the self-titled Compost album [1971], back when a dollar was worth about twenty cents. I changed it to “Deception Blues” for Music for the Fifth World, which had Scofield, Vernon Reid and Will Calhoun [from Living Colour], Lonnie Plaxico, and Michael Cain.

MD: “Inflation Blues” was on the Special Edition record of the same name as well.

Jack: Right. Inflation Blues features [horn players] Baikida Carroll, John Purcell, and Chico Freeman. On Music for the Fifth World I did a dub sequence of the song. [sings] “You see deception in the mass mass-media; you ask for truth and they tell you they don’t need ya.” I’ve recorded some protest songs through the years.

MD: The Hudson album closes with “Great Spirit Peace Chant.”

Jack: That’s the band with me; we’re all singing. It’s something that came to me while I was walking out toward our garden. It was a gift from the great spirit. A chant for peace.

MD: Have you chanted before in song?

Jack: My whole family is initiated into the Seneca Wolf Clan; we are all wolves. My wolf name is Light Thunder. There is some Native American Indian ancestry in my bloodline. I have an affinity. The drum I played there is just a floor tom with a towel on it, using a mallet. It gives it that heartbeat, the ceremonial sound—that’s the cadence. We all played native flutes, laying that down as a carpet, then Larry and John and I sang, and Medeski sang the rounds.

DeJohnette/Coltrane/Garrison

MD: What did you want from In Movement, the album with Ravi Coltrane and Matthew Garrison? Where did you expect that collaboration to go?

Jack: Where we wanted it to go, which was somewhere unexpected. The spontaneity of the music. A lot of pieces were not that tightly arranged; many of them gave birth to improvisations that occurred at soundchecks or rehearsals. “Two Jimmys” happened at Matthew’s ShapeShifter Labs. The title track happened there as well; we primed many of the pieces there.

MD: Your drumming is always in the moment, such as the Orrin Keepnews tribute at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola.

Jack: I was having fun. It’s the same with Ravi and Matthew. They have the experience; they have their personal stamps. We know that we can go wherever we feel like going.

Jazz Drumming Greats, Yesterday to Today

MD: From your standpoint, who furthered the major advancements in jazz drumming since the early 1900s?

Jack: Kenny Clarke definitely took the emphasis off the 4/4 bass drum and put it on the ride cymbal. That opened up the music for the ensemble. Then you could hear all the other instruments better. Not that you couldn’t hear them with a 4/4 bass drum, but it gave the music more sonic clarity.

MD: Was he feathering the bass drum on 4/4?

Jack: He might have been. There were guys doing it to where you almost didn’t notice it. I know Tony Williams used to do it. I never did, unless I really wanted to do it for an effect or a mood in the music. In big bands and organ trios, that kind of 4/4 bass drum was popular. It helped [propel] the acoustic bass. There was a place for that. Papa Jo Jones carried on what Kenny Clarke did; Zutty Singleton is also important. Gene Krupa is another one—he swung his ass off! And then you have Art Blakey, and Philly Joe Jones was next. Philly started changing the cymbal beat around.

MD: I thought Philly Joe Jones always played the ride cymbal pattern straight.

Jack: No, he turned it around. Roy Haynes was doing that even before Philly Joe, though. They are around the same age, but a lot of what he played came from Roy. Check it out. Elvin had a different kind of touch, a heavier touch. But listen to some of the licks that Roy played compared to Elvin; he took it totally in his direction and added valuable contributions that are still influential and resonate today.

Then you had Tony Williams, and then, on the other end of spectrum, great drummers like Andrew Cyrille, Paul Motian—Paul was free! After Paul left Bill Evans he just wanted to play. He could swing anytime, but he became like I see myself: Paul became a painter with the music, particularly in the quartet with Charlie Haden, Dewey Redman, and Keith Jarrett. Paul was amazing, and the way he hit the drums—just the sound he got! Whatever came out, he was so spontaneous and really quick. Very musical.

In terms of freeing the drummer’s role up, Rashied Ali is another one. Milford Graves too. And all those guys could play time, but they were all into a multidirectional, more abstract approach to drumming; they put their own stamp on the music.

MD: Which you’ve done as well.

Jack: Well, that’s part of the tradition. You take your favorite influences and shuffle them around, and they come out with your own way of telling a story.

MD: Elvin seemed to overshadow Roy, even though Roy’s drumming is so witty, urbane, and hard swinging. Where did Roy get his insanely creative drumming?

Jack: I don’t think Roy is overshadowed. He’s still playing in his nineties! Roy is on some of the Coltrane recordings, when Elvin couldn’t make the gig. He’s on A Different Drum [the 1978 Impulse! compilation album The Mastery of John Coltrane, Vol. II: To the Beat of a Different Drum].

MD: And he’s on your debut album, The DeJohnette Complex.

Jack: Right. But Roy has so much recognition now. If you go to his house, he’s got tons of awards. He’s not overlooked now. Everyone knows he’s one of the masters. And Roy knew how to pick great musicians, like Chick Corea, Bennie Maupin, and Wayne Shorter. He always had his own bands while he worked as a sideman with other people like Sarah Vaughan. He was a great dresser, like Miles. He was in Esquire. Roy has always had great taste.

MD: One can hear a lot of Roy in your drumming—that popping commentary. You hear Roy in Bill Stewart and Ari Hoenig as well.

Jack: Tony Williams had that too. He had a unique cymbal sound, a unique touch. He was also influenced by the so-called avant-garde when he played with Sam Rivers [Fuchsia Swing Song], and on his own records Life Time and Spring. Tony was trying to do different things, and he experimented. In Miles Davis’s band he was breaking up time, slowing tempos, and creating intensity, and the way he propelled a band, creating a sense of drive, was unique. One of my favorite records of Tony’s is The Story of Neptune, with his acoustic quintet.

MD: Why is that a favorite?

Jack: Because of the compositions Tony wrote for that album. I know that was important to him. And there’s a killer version of Freddie Hubbard’s “Birdlike” on there. There’s a bootleg version of “Birdlike” by Hubbard at Kimball’s East Supper Club in California, with pianist Billy Childs, and Tony sits in—whoa!

MD: Why did his drumming change so radically in the ’80s, that focus on 8th notes? Post Believe It!, even with the Great Jazz Trio, he plays a more 8th-note-influenced approach, though he still swings very hard.

Jack: I don’t know. That’s the way he heard the drums at that point. I heard rumors that he had planned to move back to a smaller kit. I think he hadn’t played for a while, because he took time off to write his last album, Wilderness. That was very important to him. But he was planning on getting back into the groove. Unfortunately we lost him. He was a great contributor to the music and to drumming. I’m still learning from Tony.

MD: So if we follow the ride cymbal beat: Kenny Clarke opened it up, as did Philly Joe Jones, then Tony, and Elvin Jones….

Jack: And Roy Haynes is in that mix. That’s where Roy doesn’t get the acknowledgement. Max [Roach] and Philly Joe were of that era, but Roy was doing that stuff too, playing an 18″ bass drum, because the places where guys had to play, they never made accommodation for the band.

MD: Is that also why Roy doesn’t play 2 and 4 on the hi-hat often?

Jack: That’s just what Roy heard. He played 2 and 4 on the hi-hat and then he’d break it up. Tony and Elvin did that too; that was the way drums were going. And Roy was doing that. And you see the parallel of Elvin doing that too, only thicker.

DeJohnette, the Complex One

MD: And you took it out further with Special Edition, Gateway, Terje Rypdal, and your various bands. You’re a composer; you’ve recorded at least three solo piano albums, a piano album with a Japanese rhythm section, one-off projects, world music, ambient music…. Was it always your goal to be recognized beyond your drumming?

Jack: I always wanted to just be free. Period. That’s free to be, to do what I feel like, but also play the music and be dedicated to it, be inspired, and do it with a passion, which I still strongly have. It gets stronger all the time. And joyful. One thing I’ve always said is, “Have fun with this music.” If you’re fortunate enough to create and make a living with music—doing what you love to do with great people—then come to the bandstand with joy to give the people something. I endeavor to play with a conscious intention that the music has a healing effect on people.

MD: Conscious intention as to how it touches people?

Jack: Yes, that’s important. So I always tell students to make sure you have fun and have joy. If it becomes a job, you need to consider something else.

MD: As musicians age they tend to break the rules less. Yet you continue to push boundaries. You were amazing at Dizzy’s—total DeJohnette complex!

Jack: I’m playing more relaxed, and I pace myself now—I’m older. But my enthusiasm to play is just as strong as it was when I was twenty. I haven’t lost that excitement to get on the bandstand and hit. I was fortunate, of course, to come up at a time when there was an environment of LPs and radio. Record companies nurtured artists and you got

radio play; there was a network. I do feel for the younger players, because there are obstacles. How do you get recognized in an industry that just wants to make money off of your compositions? And it’s a challenge just to work.

MD: Doing a nationwide tour as a jazz group, as Hudson is doing, is practically unheard of.

Jack: There are so many music schools, and really talented music students. They have a passion for playing the music. Once you leave school, what do you do? You have to wear many hats. You have to be an entrepreneur, find a way to embrace and utilize social media, create a fan base, and then get people to come to your gig. Apprenticeship is different now for young artists. There are mentors like Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, and Terri Lyne Carrington—she mentors many young musicians; she’s fabulous. But there’s a heavy responsibility for a young drummer to survive in the music world. The modus operandi now is for musicians to stream their music or make digital albums or just tracks, then print tangible CDs for their live performances. Each generation finds a way to adapt. Not everybody is going to be…

MD: …Jack DeJohnette?

Jack: But you know, musicians haven’t given up, even though it is daunting.

Jack on Jack: Selected Discs

MD: What are your favorite ECM records that you’ve recorded as a leader?

Jack: The first Special Edition record [1980] was great; it allowed me to expand my writing for horns. I had Peter Warren [bass], Arthur Blythe [alto saxophone], David Murray [tenor saxophone, bass clarinet]. For the track “Zoot Suite,” I expanded the sonic aspect of the group by utilizing the electronic melodica, which I played, and the arco bass. That made the small group sound bigger.

Then there’s the New Directions LP [1978] and New Directions in Europe [1980]. There’s the Gateway trio records with guitarist John Abercrombie and bassist Dave Holland: Gateway [1976], Gateway 2 [1978], Homecoming [1995], and In the Moment [1996]. That was a great trio.

MD: I especially like Sorcery [1974] and Pictures [1977].

Jack: Yes, Pictures, then Album Album [1984] is another one. I like Earthwalk [1991]. That was the Special Edition band with Gary Thomas [tenor sax], Greg Osby [soprano and alto sax], Michael Cain [keyboards], and Lonnie Plaxico [bass]. Check that one out!

MD: What are your favorite records as a sideman?

Jack: Gary Peacock’s Tales of Another [1977]. That’s the first time we played with Keith Jarrett. The trio grew out of that album.

MD: And the Japanese release, a piano trio record with a Japanese rhythm section. Seriously on fire!

Jack: That’s JacKeyboard [1973]. George Ohtsuka is on drums. He was influenced by Roy Haynes. I like Freddie Hubbard’s Straight Life [1970], Super Blue [1978], and In Concert Volume Two, with Stanley Turrentine [1973]. Joe Henderson’s Tetragon [1968] and Power to the People [1969]. Jackie McLean’s Demon’s Dance [1970] and Jacknife [1975]—I actually recorded with him before Charles Lloyd. Betty Carter’s Feed the Fire [1994] with Dave Holland on bass and Gerri Allen on piano. Betty was such an outside-the-box singer. But the label didn’t push Betty. She didn’t translate to records like she did live. She really developed young musicians, though.

Then there’s the Michael Brecker records. McCoy Tyner’s Supertrios [1977]. Sonny Rollins’ Reel Life [1982]—that was some funky stuff. A Japanese Benny Golson album, This Is For You, John [1984] with Pharoah Sanders, Ron Carter, and Cedar Walton. Zebra [1986], another Japanese-label album—that’s me and Lester Bowie.

Different Drummers and Sentient Beings

MD: You’re able to burn at will on the drums. Is that how it feels to you?

Jack: Oh, yeah. I’m totally focused. That’s one of those special places for me. I go into an altered state. I am present, but I am somewhere else too. My consciousness, my vibration opens up. Also, the musicians I’m playing with, we open up to a higher frequency.

MD: You played for years with the Keith Jarrett Trio. Was that a different mode of expression from, say, Trio Beyond?

Jack: With the piano trio, my dynamics are different, more subtle. But I still use dynamics even when I have to play more aggressively. I adapt to the space, what the music calls for, what’s happening in the moment. Adjust to the flow, seamlessly.

MD: What’s your take on how the basic ride cymbal beat has changed, from early styles to the multidirectional approach to today, when Marcus Gilmore might place the swing element anywhere on the drumset? Is jazz drumming about improvisation as much as swing now?

Jack: It depends on the composer, what the music calls for, how much freedom the drummer is being given, and how much the music allows the drummer to experiment. That ability to move rhythm and time around on different elements of the drumset is something I really like to do when I solo. I don’t keep the time there, but I imply it. If I’m playing in time, playing phrases that are out of time, that’s something different: building the motifs and the structure as I go along. It depends on the composer and the group, and what the parameters for the musicians are. Ambrose Akinmusire’s group plays a lot of odd time signatures, and Justin Brown does a great job navigating and shuffling in and out of them but not making it feel scattered. He’s great.

I also like Nasheet Waits, Kim Thompson, Kendrick Scott—whew! And Jaimeo Brown. He’s a composer and a drummer. A lot of drummers write their own music now. Matt Wilson is another. And there’s Antoine Roney’s son, Kojo. He’s been playing since he was three. He’s almost like Tony Williams in a way—starting young, so he checked out Rashied Ali and me; he’s great. And Bill Stewart, he’s like family. He’s not full of himself. I love his writing. He does what he wants to do—I love that about him.

MD: You can hear the multidirectional approach you exemplify in all of those drummers.

Jack: People also ask me about electronics. I had Special Edition groups for eight years, and we explored electronics on Irresistible Forces [1987] and AudioVisualscapes [1988]. We did an electronic version of Ornette Coleman’s “Sphinx.” We were way up in there.

MD: On the many records where you’re playing multidirectionally—playing over the barline, using the entire kit to play the beat—what gave you license to go there? Your piano playing? The influence of Roy and Elvin?

Jack: Some of that, but I was also involved with musicians such as Muhal Richard Abrams and Roscoe Mitchell in Chicago. I spent time playing with Sun Ra and his Arkestra, making rehearsals and playing gigs with him in Chicago. This is before I came to New York, before the AACM [Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians] officially chartered. Muhal Richard had an experimental orchestra with me, Henry Threadgill, and Joseph Jarman. He and I went to college together, and we would play free for hours together, daily. We were inspired by Ornette and other people, Chicago’s own eclectic music scene. Everything I eventually played in New York I was already doing in Chicago. They were just extensions of what I’d grounded myself in.

MD: So you experimented with an avant-garde approach before coming to New York.

Jack: Oh, yeah. We played concerts, everything. I didn’t record with Sun Ra. But he had the ability to arrange music with room for free expression. He had this whole thing about outer space, and not being from here. I think that is true; there are a lot of beings on this planet who are not necessarily from here. Sentient humanoid beings.

MD: Are you speaking of alien or spiritual beings?

Jack: Well, it depends on which ones you want to look at or associate with. I don’t really like the term ET, because it’s been misused to create disinformation about other interdimensional beings that do exist. We are not the center of the universe. We are a small part of something; we are so infinitesimal. When we start to wake up to that, all this bickering will no longer be desirable. We’re moving into the last vestiges of that now. That’s why everything is in upheaval—you have chaos before new things happen.

MD: What do you practice?

Jack: I just improvise, or play with records when I want to build my stamina. I play with Herbie, Miles, Coltrane, Joe Henderson. 

MD: Is there anybody who you wish you could have played with?

Jack: Hendrix was one I would have liked to play with. I played with Coltrane. I sat in with him one night in Chicago for most of the set. Then he hired me to go back to Chicago at the Plugged Nickel for a week, with Rashied Ali. Not recorded. One night Roscoe Mitchell sat in, though, and that was amazing.

What’s Next

Jack: I’ve been tracking with Paul Simon; he’s revisiting some of his older material. We did “How the Heart Approaches What It Yearns.” Paul doesn’t sing at the sessions. He just wants to get the working track. He adds a vocal later. We recorded with Joe Lovano, John Patitucci, and a piano player. And sessions with Wadada Leo Smith and Vijay Iyer as a trio, and quartet.

MD: Steve Gadd recorded that song originally with Simon. Very tricky meter!

Jack: I played it in seven, but it was originally in 10/8. I put in 10/8 too, but I wanted to do it in a different meter as well. I did some things at his home studio, and those appeared on Stranger to Stranger [“The Riverbank,” “Insomniac’s Lullaby”]. I admire his production work. I told him I loved the way he used percussion and rhythm and vocals, and I said, “I’d love to work with you.” Paul said, “Yeah, I wanted to do something with you too but was afraid to ask.” So we’ve been working on some things. I like Stranger to Stranger a lot.

MD: Do you have any parting advice to young drummers?

Jack: I recommend that they have knowledge of a melodic instrument. Rashied Ali would carry a flute around all the time. I want to get some bamboo that isn’t affected by weather, shape it like a brass reed to use as a reed in my melodica. I want less of a harmonica sound and more of a reed sound. If I can find somebody to experiment, I could replicate the shape of a brass reed using bamboo. I’d be curious to hear how that would sound in my melodica.

But other than that, listen to everything, and keep an open mind. Be a team player. To be a good leader you have to be a good follower and listener.


DeJohnette’s Setup

Drums: Sonor Hilite Exclusive with copper lugs and rims
A. 7×14 snare
B. 8×8 tom
C. 8×10 tom
D. 9×12 tom
E. 11×13 tom
F. 15×14 floor tom
G. 17×16 floor tom
H. 15×18 bass drum

Cymbals: Sabian
1. 14″ HH 3-Point Custom Shop hi-hats
2. 18″ Artisan 3-Point crash
3. 16″ Artisan 3-Point crash
4. 22″ prototype “Shimmering” ride
5. 21″ HHX 3-Point ride (“buffed to bring out the high overtones”) 

Heads: Aquarian Jack DeJohnette signature medium-weight batters and High Frequency clear resonants

Sticks: Vic Firth 75th Anniversary signature Jack DeJohnette sticks (extended 5A with wood tip), mallets, brushes, and Steve Smith bamboo TW11 Tala Wands

“Over the years I’ve integrated the Sabian Resonating Bells into my setup,” DeJohnette says. “They’re on the trio record with Ravi Coltrane and Matt Garrison. I’m constantly developing lines of cymbals with Sabian. It’s been a productive relationship. Now I’m working on a new ride cymbal that’s one of the best rides ever.”