New York’s Hudson River valley has a long history as a haven for artists either fleeing the exhausting grind of New York City or seeking to the area’s natural beauty. It’s where Bob Dylan retreated for an extended retreat following his (possibly exaggerated) motorcycle crash in 1966, it’s where Van Morrison conceived of Moondance, and it’s currently home to — among others — jazz musicians Jack DeJohnette (drums), John Scofield (guitar), John Medeski (keyboards, of Medeski, Martin and Wood) and Larry Grenadier (bass), who formed the newly-organized collective Hudson. PEOPLE is pleased to premiere their version of Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay,” appearing on the group’s self-titled debut, out June 9.
Hudson’s credentials run deep. DeJohnette, who turns 75 this year, boasts an extensive resume that includes work in groups with Miles Davis, Bill Evans, a long-running trio with Keith Jarrett and Gary Peacock and his own work as a bandleader. Scofield is one of the most in-demand collaborators in the music industry and has become equally at home in the jam-band scene — as have Medeski, Martin and Wood — as in the jazz world. Grenadier has played with a roster of legends like Stan Getz, Gary Burton and Joe Henderson, as well as modern players like Michael Brecker and Brad Mehldau.
DeJohnette says Hudson had gotten together separately before in various circumstances, but really only played together at a recent Woodstock Jazz Festival appearance and reconvened with the idea of celebrating their shared home with an album.
FROM PEN: Grammy News and Notes: Album of the Year Nominees
“I just love these pieces. I love ‘Lay Lady Lay,’ you know? Just great writing,” DeJohnette says. “We all love them, and we were all really happy with the result.”
“We love and respect each other’s music and individual personalities on their instruments, and the combination just seemed to really gel,” he explains. Aside from a few originals, the group runs through classics inspired by the region, including Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Wait Until Tomorrow,” in addition to Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay.” “We seem to have a really special rapport that comes across in the music,” he adds.
The group also tackles Woodstock heroes The Band, which is an especially personal touch for DeJohnette, who was (and is) friends with Band members Garth Hudson and Levon Helm, sitting in on several of Helm’s “Midnight Ramble” concerts.
“When I played with Miles, we did a double bill with The Band and Miles at the Hollywood Bowl, and the rest of the band — Keith Jarrett and Dave [Holland, bass] — jammed with the Band there.”