Most of Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition's recordings are quite rewarding and this set is no exception. Drummer/keyboardist Jack DeJohnette contributed five of the six compositions (all but "Monk's Mood") and they cover a wide range of styles and moods, from "New Orleans Suite" and "Festival" to the ambitious "Third World Anthem" and a revisit to his "Zoot Suite." This was one of the most stimulating jazz groups of the 1980s and this particular lineup (with John Purcell on alto and soprano, tenor saxophonist David Murray, Howard Johnson doubling on tuba and baritone, and bassist Rufus Reid) was one of DeJohnette's strongest. - All Music
The title of this 1984 refers to it being Jack DeJohnette's family album of sorts. His mother had died around this time and he composed this set in her memory and dedicated one track ("New Orleans Strut") to his father. Jack DeJohnette is even pictured on the cover with his wife and daughter, and numerous old family photos grace the inside spread.
This version of Special Edition had a powerful three-horn front line, with John Purcell on alto and soprano saxophones, David Murray on tenor and Howard Johnson on tuba and baritone sax. The opening number, "Ahmad the Terrible" features a folkish melody over a rollicking rhythmic base, calling to mind some of the works by Moondog. The set's one cover is Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood," here arranged with an extended and gloriously laid-back opening by the three horns, with the drums and bass joining in after a few minutes.
I learned from the liner notes that this album was meant to commemorate Jack's late mother in an effort to imbue a time of mourning with the spirit of joy and celebration. In my opinion, this is achieved! Many of the tunes have tongue in cheek themes and make you smile. At the same time, the musicianship is brilliant and manages for the most part to sound fresh even after 30 years. When the 70s sound appears as such, it is still with panache and cool, so it serves as a monument to that time period as well. Highly recommended.- By Casper Paludan
This is a very special selection, played with genuine involvement, inspiration and commitment, as a felt homage in memory of Jack's mother.
Despite the years this album maintains that touch of remarkable distinction. A genuine run around the essential roots of the beginnings of this genre.
It's useless to talk about the magnificence of this connoted drum' s superstar. The rest of the team plays with enraptured bliss. A celebration of the music by itself. -
By Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela
I first heard of Jack deJohnette as part of the Keith Jarrett trio, but I saw this release on a cassette at a thrift store of all places and snatched it up!! It's wonderful. He's a great drummer not to mention pianist and the tuba is an interesting addition to the overall sound. Monk's Mood is a great piece as are his original sounds. -
All the songs on this CD are good, but Ahmad the Terrible is an outstanding work of jazz. I find it difficult to explain why I love this piece so much - it so very unique. Every jazz lover should have this CD in their collection. - By Dubarnik
Jack Dejohnette is a wonderful artist and it shows amazingly on this album. My favorite track is "Third World Anthem" that song is one of the best jazz compositions of the late 20th century. I highly recommend owning or just listening to this fine piece of creativity. You won't be disappointed. - By Mecca Egypt.
Listening to a jazz playlist of mine on shuffle on my pocket computer, I had the pleasure of hearing "Third World Anthem," from "Album Album", a 1984 release by Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition. I first began to listen to jazz extensively when I was a DJ at KZSU, the student radio station at Stanford University. I first did a jazz show in the summer of 1983. When I started, I knew next to nothing. But I knew Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue," and John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things," so I started "So What" from the former and cued up the title track from the latter, and wondered what to play after that.
Jazz albums have good lists of personnel, so I went and got albums by all the sidemen on those two albums. One of the albums was by McCoy Tyner (pianist on the Coltrane album), and one of the sidemen on that album was Jack DeJohnette. I don't remember what Tyner album it was, but I vaguely remember it being a piano trio, which means it was almost certainly "Supertrios" from 1977.
In any case, this use of sidemen to find more records to play had quickly led me to Jack DeJohnette, and when I began to exclusively play jazz in my DJ'ing the following January, his work was a staple of my shows, and when "Album Album" came out that year, I played it to death, especially "Festival," "New Orleans Strut," and "Third World Anthem."
I spent just over a week in New York just after Thanksgiving in 1984, and I went to see Special Edition several times during their week-long gig at the Blue Note. David Murray had already become one of my favorite saxophone players by then, but I was just as impressed by John Purcell and Howard Johnson. Rufus Reid is the bassist on the album, but he was busy elsewhere, so Cecil McBee was replacing him, and I remember him as being especially great. And DeJohnette was, as always, simply a wonder on the drums.
"Album Album": one of the greatest records of the 1980s, to my ears. (Up there with "Seeds of Time," by the magnificent Dave Holland Quintet.) -