Saudades (ECM)

Trio Beyond (Jack DeJohnette, John Scofield, Larry Goldings)

Released June 6, 2006

Grammy Nominee for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group 2007




A blistering live set, recorded in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2004, with music originally presented under the rubric “Lifetime and Beyond: Celebrating Tony Williams.” Project initiator Jack DeJohnette replaced his good friend Tony Williams in the Miles Davis group in 1969, when Williams left to launch Lifetime, the explosive and short-lived group that had a powerful impact at the dawn of electric jazz. Although jazz critics comprehended Lifetime’s achievement only retrospectively, the band’s confrontational cross-referencing of jazz improvisational fluency and rock dynamics was enormously influential amongst musicians. Only Bitches Brew, which paved the way for diverse progressive jazz-funk hybrids, was as highly regarded by players at the time.
Trio Beyond echoes the instrumental format – organ/guitar/drums – of Lifetime, as Larry Goldings, John Scofield and Jack DeJohnette revisit material once played by Larry Young, John McLaughlin and Tony Williams while lending their own artistic flavors and style. Thus “Emergency” and “Spectrum” are drawn from Lifetime’s first disc, while Coltrane’s “Big Nick” and Larry Young’s “Allah Be Praised” were part of the repertoire on the follow-up Turn It Over. However, in rounding out this portrait, DeJohnette, Scofield and Goldings also retrace the path of Tony Williams, going back to his early days with Miles Davis. “Seven Steps To Heaven” was one of the first pieces that the then 17-year-old Williams played with the great trumpeter, recording it on the album of the same name in 1963 and, soon afterwards, on several live discs (Miles In St Louis, Four and More). The standard “I Fall In Love Too Easily” was also part of Miles’s book in the early 1960s, recorded on the Seven Steps album and again two years later on the Plugged Nickel sessions. “Pee Wee” is a piece Williams wrote for the Davis group, and recorded on Sorcerer in 1967 in the classic 60s Davis group with Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Ron Carter.
Trio Beyond also looks fleetingly at Larry Young’s Unity recording of 1965, an important pre-Lifetime statement (with Elvin Jones, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw). “If” also comes from this source.
The rest of the material, composed and/or improvised by the trio members, includes Larry Goldings’ “As One”, which launches the sequence that includes Larry Young’s “Allah Be Praised” and the collective piece “Saudades”; on CD 2, “Love In Blues” which flowers out of “I Fall I Love Too Easily”, is also a group improvisation.
Jack DeJohnette: “The idea for this trio came out of conversations that John Scofield and I had regarding how important Tony Williams had been to us both musically and as a band leader. Among other things, his innovative propulsive rhythmic approach and his visionary concept of time and space had been a tremendous influence on us both. John had been playing with Larry Goldings for awhile, another admirer of Tony, and we both felt he was the perfect person to round out the trio based on Tony’s Lifetime band.”

Track Listing:

Disc 1

1. If 10:07

2. As One (Larry Goldings) 4:36

3. Allah Be Praised (Larry Young) 0:43

4. Saudades (Jack DeJohnette / Larry Goldings / John Scofield) 10:46

5. Pee Wee (Tony Williams) 12:13

6. Spectrum (John McLaughlin) 16:11

Disc 2

1. Seven Steps to Heaven (Miles Davis) 12:54

2. I Fall in Love Too Easily (Jule Styne) 10:13

3. Love in Blues (Jack DeJohnette / Larry Goldings / John Scofield) 4:45

4. Big Nick (John Coltrane) 17:08

5. Emergency (Tony Williams) 11:19


Jack DeJohnette: drums

John Scofield: guitar

Larry Goldings: Hammond organ, electric piano, sampler

Recorded November 21, 2004, at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England

Engineer: Patrick Murray

Edited and mastered by Jan Erik Kongshaug and Manfred Eicher

Photography: Lydia DeJohnette Roberto Masotti

Design: Sascha Kleis


Looking back has become almost de rigeur lately, and with that the risk of putting legacy groups on a pedestal—being fervently imitative, rather than taking the music to new places. Saudades pays tribute to the late drummer Tony Williams’ groundbreaking fusion group Lifetime, and Trio Beyond clearly has the right idea. The spirit and energy which defined Lifetime’s brief existence is in full force on this live double-disc set, but Trio Beyond’s ability to apply a modernistic bent to Lifetime’s raw power makes Saudades more than just a heartfelt tribute. It’s one of the best releases of 2006.

Drummer Jack DeJohnette, guitarist John Scofield and keyboardist Larry Goldings ensure that Williams’ revolutionary work is given a facelift that’s reverent but speaks with its own voice. Culling material from Lifetime’s Emergency! (Polydor, 1969) and Turn It Over (Polydor, 1970), and dipping into the repertoire of Lifetime organist Larry Young and iconic bandleader Miles Davis—who first brought Williams to prominence—Trio Beyond’s purview is broader than Lifetime’s ever was.

DeJohnette and Williams were contemporaries, so there’s no denying that cross-pollination occurred. Williams swung hard, and here DeJohnette is as raucous as he’s ever sounded, approaching John Coltrane’s “Big Nick with a muscularity rarely heard from him these days. Always a malleable player, DeJohnette keeps the time profoundly elusive yet undeniably clear on the ballad “I Fall in Love Too Easily.

A decade his junior, Scofield couldn’t help but be influenced by Lifetime guitarist John McLaughlin’s seemingly unschooled but, in reality, highly studied approach to aggressive jazz guitar. Scofield has rarely played with this level of energy and angularity, especially when the trio’s take on McLaughlin’s knotty “Spectrum breaks down mid-stream. With his own harmonic approach, Scofield applies a host of electronic processing to take his instrument to places McLaughlin simply couldn’t have visited.

At 38, Larry Goldings is the same age as Young was when he died tragically in 1978. Young’s more abstract modality figures more in Goldings’ approach than the soul jazz of Jimmy Smith or Jack McDuff.

Reaching Lifetime’s sonic levels on “Emergency and “Spectrum, Trio Beyond also shines in its reinvention of material Williams played during his tenure with Miles. “Seven Steps to Heaven opens with a powerful vamp that sets up the familiar theme, played with unexpectedly staggered time and an energy that leads into Scofield’s hard-hitting solo, supported by an unrepentant DeJohnette and Goldings’ in-the-stratosphere accompaniment.

While Trio Beyond demonstrates more finesse than Lifetime, it would be a mistake to consider this a more conventional group. There’s nothing polite about it, and Saudades demonstrates that when you bring together three players with a common goal, the resultant chemistry can make for music that’s both visceral and cerebral. With a European tour this year and dates lining up for 2007, it looks like Trio Beyond will be around for awhile—which is good news for those who want to hear three players at the absolute top of their game.

John Kelman (All About Jazz)