Page 3 of 3
As is the trend these days DeJohnette has started a label to release his music, Golden Beams Productions. One of the imprint’s acclaimed releases is 2009’s Music We Are, a CD/DVD package featuring a documentary that premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival. Along with ear-opening collaborations with guitarist Bill Frisell and kora master Foday Musa Suso, the label is also home to two releases reflecting the percussionist’s newfound interest in New Age/meditation sounds, the Grammy-nominated Music in the Key of Om (2006) and the Grammy-winning Peace Time (2007).
“We live in uncertain, stressful times and people need to be able to relax, especially with all of this political bullshit going on,” DeJohnette says, the day after November’s Congressional elections. “I’ve always had a very spiritual outlook with music, which is also something I experienced with Trane and Mulhal. It’s good to do something that really focuses on the healing properties music has.” Building on this philosophy, he and Lydia have also worked with Kingston and Benedictine hospitals to set up a closed-circuit-TV program broadcasting the two albums’ calming music and nature images by New Paltz photographer G. Steve Jordan to patients. “It seems to be especially helpful for people in hospice care, and we’d love to see it spread to other hospitals,” says DeJohnette. Additionally, each year Lydia organizes benefit concerts by DeJohnette and others for social-assistance organizations Family of Woodstock and the Queens Galley; earlier this year, DeJohnette, bassist Larry Grenadier, saxophonist Joe Lovano, and guitarists John Scofield and Larry Coryell raised $10,000 for the Queens Galley.
As he prepares to leave for another tour, how does all of the hubbub surrounding Bitches Brew’s big 4-0 hit him? “It’s been a long time [since the release], but to me there’s really no sense of that,” says the tall percussionist, squinting against the sun that fills his wood-lined living room. “Miles isn’t here anymore, but we still have the music. It’s imprinted into the ether, in what I call the ‘Cosmic Library of Consciousness.’ It’s in the air like the radio, and we can just tap into it whenever we want to, forever.
“When I stop to think about it, though, it’s just unfathomable, that it’s been 40 years. I think, ‘Was it really that long ago?’ Because, you know, there’s only this moment. There’s only right here and now.”
- Fionn Reilly