Keith Jarrett Trio: Whisper Not (ECM 1724/25)

Whisper Not

Keith Jarrett Trio
Whisper Not

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double-bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded July 5, 1999 at Palais des Congrès, Paris
Engineer: Martin Pearson
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Following his intimate comeback from an illness that might have barred him from the keyboard forever, pianist Keith Jarrett closed another gap with Whisper Not, the first live album with his standards trio in three years. Once the needle of “Bouncin’ with Bud” drops, however, it’s as if there’d never been a skip in the record. Jarrett seems unable to contain the joy of being once again in his element, so that his chording behind Peacock’s first solo feels like a bird circling, waiting to dive: not in for the kill, but for the sheer thrill of his clip. And dive he does, navigating DeJohnette’s thermals with expert care, thus marking a triumphant return to the fold. That said, when later Jarrett comes into his vocal own on “Hallucinations,” he proves that this concert is more than that: it’s a reframing of what always was, and ever will be, a profound talent.

That the trio’s sound is brighter and more focused will be obvious to any longtime listener. There’s a special, scintillating quality to this album notable already in the title track, which opens with a characteristically wood-knotted intro before locking into a welcoming gait. Yet Jarrett positively fluoresces in the more downtempo turns. “Chelsea Bridge,” for one, moves with the magical fortitude of a classic fairytale—only this music is undeniably real. Some tender unpacking from Peacock sets the pianist to the delicate task of sorting those artifacts to heartwarming effect. His vivid approach to melody stands out further in “All My Tomorrows” and “Round Midnight,” both deep gazes inward that light candles in a post-storm blackout: not with fire but with an inextinguishable love for the musical process.

From “Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams” to George Shearing’s “Conception,” the set’s more upbeat turns have a tenderness all their own. On the same note, “Groovin’ High” might as well be the name of a school, for the trio’s performance of this Dizzy Gillespie tune is a master class in exposition. Peacock revels in the sound to which he is able to contribute so intelligently, while DeJohnette elicits visceral exchanges, ligaments to this as-yet-infallible body. “Sandu” further proves why Peacock and DeJohnette comprise one of the most intuitive rhythm sections in the business. They flow so organically, and with such unforced conviction, that it seems impossible to listen outside their spell. Each has his master moment: the bassist’s in “Prelude To A Kiss” and the drummer’s “Poinciana.” The latter is one of the most brilliant in the trio’s recorded output, of which only this concert’s encore, “When I Fall In Love,” has made it to disc before. Even more beautiful than one could hope for, it’s the perfect way to end a new beginning.

Welcome home.

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