An acclaimed percussionist, he’s worked with a number of well-known names in jazz, like John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Esperanza Spalding. DeJohnette received a 2008 Grammy Award and was named a “Jazz Master” from the National Endowment for the Arts in the year 2012. When he was only 4 years old, he started studying the piano; ancient piano would take up the next ten years of his life. It was also while in his teens that DeJohnette began around the drums, the instrument that will explain his career. Following a move to Nyc in 1966, DeJohnette joined the acclaimed Charles Lloyd Quartet. He remained together with the group until 1968. Between 1969 and 1972, DeJohnette was part of Miles Davis’s fusion group, and was heard on the transformative record Bitches Brew (1970).
DeJohnette’s first record as a leader, The DeJohnette Complex, came out in 1968. He formed his own groups such as Guidance and Special Edition in the 1970s, but also continued to work as a sideman. A defining stage of DeJohnette’s career came when he started drumming in a trio with pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Gary Peacock in the 1980s. This cooperation would continue for decades. But while DeJohnette may be best called a drummer, he’s played keyboards for a lot of jobs over time, in addition to creating his own compositions.
In 2005, as DeJohnette was touring using the Jack DeJohnette Quartet, The New York Times wrote he was likely “among the main musicians in the last 40 years of jazz.” The exact same year, DeJohnette founded his own record label: Golden Beams Productions. This label released DeJohnette’s Peace Time, which earned him a 2008 Grammy Award for the best new age record.
The National Endowment for the Arts named DeJohnette a Jazz Master in the year 2012, among the greatest honours in his area. Though he could decide to sit back and rest on his laurels, DeJohnette rather stays a productive power in music.