In the 1980s, when ECM ruled the prestigious jazz recording landscape, collaboration was the watchword among the most progressive musicians. No ECM artist ever fit this collaborative bill better than drummer Jack DeJohnette, who formed and re-formed several recording groups for the label during that decade. His finest efforts were reserved, appropriately enough, for the project he called “Special Edition.” DeJohnette anchored Special Edition on drums, piano, and even melodica, all while featuring a changing array of brilliant contributors, such as saxophonists David Murray, Chico Freeman, John Purcell, and Arthur Blythe. Special Edition released four albums on ECM in the ‘80s; each one is a rare treat. Now ECM has packaged all four CDs in a value-priced box set that is well worth multiple listens. The music is sometimes lyrical, sometimes cool, and sometimes jarringly dissonant, but it is never dull, and it is always — as is typical of ECM — splendidly recorded. In all of its configurations, DeJohnette’s Special Edition sounds as fresh and adventuresome today as it did nearly 30 years ago.
Special Edition (Reissue)