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Hudson: A State Of Mind

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Saturday June 03, 2017

From Something Else!

Jack DeJohnette, Larry Grenadier, John Medeski, John Scofield – Hudson (2017)
By: S. Victor Aaron

So this is what happens when a group of old jazz hands get into a Levon Helm kind of way. Hudson is the name of an album, a supergroup and a song on the album by the supergroup, and it’s due out June 9, 2017 from Motéma Music. The combination of Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, John Medeski and Larry Grenadier is capable of so much; Hudson delivers in that it doesn’t kowtow to expectations of what kind of music these four legends should make.

‘Hudson’ is not a name that came about without much meaning; the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York is the land of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival, Pete Seeger’s Clearwater movement and more artists per capita than any other place in the USA. NYC artists have found much refuge in the peaceful, natural scenery away from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. DeJohnette, Scofield, Medeski and Grenadier have all eventually made homes here and have all performed with each of the others. A 2014 concert together at the Woodstock Jazz Festival was all it took to provoke them to combine to make music that has a strong connection to not only where they came from, but to where they now make their homes.

The careers of these four follow timelines that only partially overlap each other but the common denominator among them is not just that they are jazz musicians, but musicians and fans of more popular forms of music before they turned to jazz, such as rock, RnB, folk and funk. This is a record of relating to the music they dug growing up as much as it’s about their current environs. All have collectively made plenty of records that indulge their fondness for the music of their youths; Scofield were in such bands at separate times with DeJohnette and Medeski, for instance. But the thing about old jazz hands like these guys is that they have gotten over themselves so long ago; making the musicians around them sound better is ingrained in them and it’s this colloquial manner of making music that makes the whole greater than the great parts. Here, ‘laid back’ is the dominant music style, and the hippie attitude pervades the album so much that the formal styles played are nearly superfluous.

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