The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect


The Ripple Effect is innovative jazz pioneer Jack DeJohnette’s world-wise electronic project with Ben Surman of thirdzomby. The result is Hybrids, the duo’s debut album blending shades of African jazz, reggae and dance music into DeJohnette's groove-heavy rhythmic patterns.


“Hybrids represents the best in cross-cultural pollination, and it’s something the mainstream can’t afford to miss.” – RELIX Magazine

With 50 years of drumming behind him, innovative jazz pioneer Jack DeJohnette introduces Hybrids, the debut album by The Ripple Effect, his collaborative project released on his own Golden Beams Productions on October 4, 2005. Featuring seven interpretations of previously recorded material (three of which have never been released) and one brand new track, Hybrids is a continuation of what DeJohnette has been accomplishing for a half-century: inspiring and creating music without boundaries. Produced and remixed by sound engineer Ben Surman, with guidance by DeJohnette himself, Hybrids launches jazz into the 21st century.

Blending shades of African jazz, reggae and dance music into DeJohnette’s already groove-heavy rhythmic patterns, The Ripple Effect’s Hybrids is an eclectic foray into numerous disciplines that works as a whole. Borrowing heavily from Music from the Hearts of the Masters, his 2005 release alongside Gambian kora master Foday Musa Suso, the African influence is tempered by the gorgeous vocals of Marlui Miranda, the most acclaimed and recognized performer and researcher of Brazilian Indian music. Multi-instrumentalist John Surman adds lilting strains of clarinet, saxophone and recorder, while Big Al polishes the project with effervescent guitar riffs. The ingenuity of each song lends itself to a broad audience.

“It can fit into a lot of different programs,” says DeJohnette, “from college radio to commercial jazz stations, and more esoteric channels. I think it will allow programmers to stretch a little bit.” This is an understatement for the drummer, whose classic work on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew (as well as performing alongside John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans and countless others) have solidified him as “one of the most important musicians in the last 40 years of jazz” (Ben Ratliff, The New York Times). His entire career has been about stretching what fits within jazz constraints. With one of the most impressive resumes in the genre, he has proven time and again that no boundaries exist. With the opening “Ancient Techno,” from his collaboration with Suso, the mere song title hints at a connective tissue between past and future. Originally an acoustic display of astute showmanship, Suso’s intricate kora patterns swerved fluidly between DeJohnette’s perfect cadence. The result was a trance-inducing masterpiece of an exchange of human energy – the very root of ceremonial African music. With Surman’s digital texturing, the prevalent hi-hat stays while a tasteful breakbeat adds extra octane to the groove. Synthesizers only add to the mix, with nothing distracting from the fact that this is ritual music.

“I was trying to stay true to the originals,” says Surman. “I wanted to extract some of the grooves and melodies that I was drawn to and use them in a different context, retaining the groove and feel but placing it in a different musical setting. I wanted to move outside of the more traditional acoustic approach and add elements you wouldn’t normally find in jazz.”

Staying true to much of the African-inspired work DeJohnette is cultivating, Surman reworked four of Music from the Hearts of the Masters originals: “Ancient Techno,” “Worldwide Funk,” “Rose Garden” and “Ocean Wave.” Each is an example of Surman’s forward-thinking perspective of DeJohnette’s work, whom he has known since birth (Ben is the son of longtime DeJohnette collaborator John Surman). Ben adds a youthful dynamic, be it dub-heavy bass lines or speeded up drumbeats, spanning generations of sound.

“Ben is a very sensitive and highly creative sound engineer,” says DeJohnette. “He asked me if he could play around with some of the main tracks, and that was something I wanted to do—get into electronica and remixes. Ben recreates musical soundscapes that are always changing. Sometimes he draws you in and just when you think it has settled, he moves you, sometimes abruptly, sometimes very subtly. It enhances the creative aspect of improvisation that I do when I play. Most people listen to it and their faces light up and they start smiling.”

Smiles continue with the heavy reggae influence on “Dubwise,” featuring Miranda’s sailing vocals. As in 1970s Jamaica, nothing is straightforward: Surman splices and dices her voice, making lyrics more layered than upfront, relying on the slow rhythm to seduce and penetrate the listener. The two other songs featuring Miranda – “Na Na Nai” and “Corn Song” – also make her voice larger than life (even if studio tampering wasn’t needed). The final song, “The Just-Us Department,” is a new track specially made for Hybrids by DeJohnette and Surman. In many ways, it is the most club-friendly track, turning up the bass and letting the rhythm drift into blatant dance territory.

“It’s not specifically aimed at a club vi


1968 The DeJohnette Complex (Milestone)
1970 Have You Heard? (Epic)
1972 Compost (Columbia)
1973 Jackeyboard (Trio)
1974 Sorcery (Original Jazz Classics)
1975 Works (ECM)
1975 Cosmic Chicken (Prestige)
1976 Pictures (ECM)
1976 Untitled (ECM)
1977 New Rags (ECM)
1977 Tales of Another (ECM)
1978 New Directions (ECM)
1979 Special Edition (ECM)
1979 New Directions in Europe (ECM)
1980 Tin Can Alley (ECM)
1982 Inflation Blues (ECM)
1983 With Werner Pirchner and Harry Peppi (ECM)
1984 Album, Album (ECM)
1985 The Jack DeJohnette Piano Album (Landmark)
1985 Zebra (MCA)
1987 Irresistible Forces (MCA)
1988 Audio-Visualscapes (MCA)
1990 Parallel Realities (MCA)
1991 Earthwalk (Blue Note)
1992 Music for the Fifth World (Manhattan)
1994 Extra Special Edition (Blue Note)
1995 Dancing with Nature Spirits (ECM)
1996 Oneness (ECM)
2002 Invisible Nature (ECM)
2005 Music in the Key of Om (Golden Beams/Kindred Rhythm)
2005 Music from the Hearts of the Masters (Golden Beams/Kindred Rhythm)
2005 Hybrids (Golden Beams/Kindred Rhythm)
2006 The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers (Golden Beams/Kindred Rhythm)
2006 Saudades (ECM)