Keith Jarrett Trio: After The Fall (ECM 2590/91)

After The Fall

Keith Jarrett Trio
After The Fall

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Producer: Keith Jarrett
Recorded live in concert
November 14, 1998
at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC),
Newark, New Jersey
Engineer: Alain Leduc
Mastering: Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher
Release date: March 2, 2018

After playing his last concerts in 1996, documented as A Multitude of Angels, Keith Jarrett was stricken with a bout of chronic fatigue syndrome that kept his hands away from the piano for two years. Only after that period of mystery and debilitation did he try to revive his trusted band with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. After a few rehearsals in the studio, he decided it was time to take a chance on the concert stage, doing so on November 14, 1998 for a performance at Newark, New Jersey’s new Performing Arts Center. If not for a touch of restraint, one might never know the difference, as Jarrett unpacks a formidable intro to their nearly 16-minute version of “The Masquerade Is Over” to kick off the evening’s revival. In addition to his obvious joy, one can bask in Peacock’s buoyancy and DeJohnette’s flowering metronome. Jarrett’s fingers are even more alive in the Charlie Parker standby “Scrapple From The Apple.” With the blessed assurance of this longstanding relationship, Jarrett gives us metaphysical nourishment of the highest archival order.

Jarrett Trio

“Old Folks” dips his hands into a font of balladic wonders. As well in “When I Fall In Love” and Noel Coward’s “I’ll See You Again,” he builds emotional castles brick by meticulous brick, giving his all to the integrity of the entire proverbial kingdom. A characteristically luxurious take on the live staple “Autumn Leaves” offers 13 minutes of polished bliss. No signs of fatigue, physical or otherwise, can be read into this ecstatic rendition, especially as Peacock and DeJohnette offer surprises of their own in a brilliant triangulation of spontaneous invention. The concert’s upbeat excursions, in fact, offer some of its most head-nodding rewards. These include Bud Powell’s “Bouncin’ With Bud,” which unfurls a robust scroll of creativity; an exuberant take on “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town,” in which DeJohnette and Peacock blaze around every corner; and a muscular interpretation of John Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice.” Neither does Jarrett concede anything close to fatigue in the denser geometry of Sony Rollins’s “Doxy” or Pete La Roca’s “One For Majid,” in which the trio flies high and swings low. And Jarrett’s sensitivity shines as brightly as ever in Paul Desmond’s “Late Lament,” for which he opens another eye for every one that he closes.

No one could have known what this concert would bring, that it would usher in a freer, more unrestricted era, or that it would unshackle Jarrett’s chains in favor of rebirth. But with this piece now restored for all to place into the puzzle of their appreciation, we find proof that old endings are only new beginnings in disguise.

Keith Jarrett Trio: Yesterdays (ECM 2060)

Yesterdays

Keith Jarrett Trio
Yesterdays

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double-bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded April 30, 2001 at Metropolitan Festival Hall, Tokyo
Engineer: Yoshihiro Suzuki
Produced by Manfred Eicher and Keith Jarrett

Yesterdays follows Always Let Me Go, The Out-of-Towners, and My Foolish Heart (link to all) as the fourth and final ECM album recorded during Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette’s inaugural tour of the new millennium. Like beads on a necklace, these albums guide a singular thread, a development of attitude and polish, which colors the music of this enduring trio. Pianist, bassist, and drummer respectively buff another set of standards to a sheen of crystalline ebullience.

Horace Silver’s “Strollin’” blossoms with free-blowing fragrance, carrying its symbolic weight in gold down pathways toward reminisced-about times and places. Although Jarrett’s wings may be almost as fast as a hummingbird’s, they are living proof of mind over matter, if not mind as matter, doing more than putting feet to ground as the title would imply. Peacock likewise enamors the scene with an emotional rather than physical leap in his solo. “You Took Advantage Of Me” returns from its appearance on My Foolish Heart with even greater sanctity, while the title track, tender as tender can be, holds its heart in its pocket so that it may never forget where it came from. Peacock builds a fluid, chromatic ladder in his duly heartfelt solo before an enchanting finish from the keys. “Shaw’nuff,” a Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie joint, launches into its vamp with the resolve of a high diver. There is fantastic, sparkling energy here that bears out in a concise and to-the-point narrative style. The forlorn ballad “You’ve Changed” works its craft in subtlest ways. Originally a song of needing to move on but not knowing how, here it cups a more hopeful carnation in its hands. Peacock does wonders with this tune, as does Jarrett in the afterglow. Parker’s “Scrapple From The Apple” makes a welcome cameo in the trio’s set list after a debut appearance on up for it and elicits pure trio magic. Harold Arlen’s “A Sleepin’ Bee” is a steady, mid-tempo tune that adds a dose of whimsy to this Tokyo performance. Peacock and DeJohnette sit deep in the pocket, adding copious amounts of fibrillating swing. “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” is another soft tune which glows like an ember in memory of a doused fire, of the feeling of togetherness that once convened around it. After these blue notes, the upbeat take on “Stella By Starlight” (recorded during soundcheck) that ends the album pours fresh sunshine onto the scene, inspires some fine drumming, and puts Jarrett in a restrained yet joyful mode, ending smoothly and unexpectedly on a whim.

Track for track, a solid outing, with soft spots in all the right places.

(To hear samples of Yesterdays, click here.)

Keith Jarrett Trio: My Foolish Heart (ECM 2021/22)

My Foolish Heart

Keith Jarrett Trio
My Foolish Heart

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double-bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded July 22, 2001 at Stravinski Auditorium, Montreaux with Le Voyageur Mobile Studio
Engineer: Martin Pearson
Produced by Manfred Eicher

My Foolish Heart may just be, between Still Live and Somewhere, the missing piece of the Keith Jarrett Trio’s Triforce. Recorded live in Montreux in July of 2001, it shows the trio—both in general and this specific—in brightest light. The bounce of “Four” kicks things off with so much panache that anyone even thinking of laying fingers to keyboard might just want to crawl into a hovel and listen in awe. The tune is, of course, by Miles Davis and draws lines of history back to Jarrett’s association with the Prince of Darkness, flipping that nickname into an exercise in luminescence. The feeling of togetherness practically shouts its decades of experience from the rooftops and calls any who will listen in ecstatic gathering. Peacock almost flies off the handle from all the excitation, but reins in his enthusiasm just enough to build his first solo of the night with architectural integrity. DeJohnette, too, revs the engine a few times without losing traction.

This formula works wonders in subsequent takes on Sonny Rollins’s “Oleo” and two Fats Waller tunes (“Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Honeysuckle Rose”), imbuing the stage, respectively, with flow, flourish, and ragtime charm. At once progressive and nostalgic, these fast-fingered excursions attract wonder like magnets. The emotive genius of Jarrett’s sidemen is extraordinary throughout. “The Song Is You” is another instance of revelry that unpacks entire fields’ worth of implications in single sweeps, in which DeJohnette’s skills blossom most blissfully.

“You Took Advantage Of Me,” a Rogers and Hart show tune, finds a holistic place in the Jarrett set list and obscures none of the whimsy of its absent lyrics. From the florid we move to the tough love of Thelonious Monk’s “Straight, No Chaser,” which pours a stiff drink indeed. Jarrett spins like a top, inspiring gorgeous circling from DeJohnette and a pin-cushioned solo from Peacock. It sits comfortably alongside “Five Brothers,” an earlier Gerry Mulligan tune that oozes 1950s charisma: monochromatic, debonair, and veiled by cigarette smoke. The trio ends somberly with a quietly spirited “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out To Dry.” More than any other portion of the concert, Jarrett’s infallible respect for melody comes to the fore and paints for us a picture so realistic, it might as well be a photograph, a moment in time, a memory to cherish.

Two encores further express the trio’s balance of wind and water. “On Green Dolphin Street” whisks on by with such ebullience that it hardly leaves a trace of its passing, while “Only The Lonely” tears the heart in two and mends it in just over six minutes. Yet nowhere is the telepathy of this trio so nakedly conveyed than in the title tune, which sways, full-figured and proud, with all the rustle of a willow tree. The combination of singing pianism and melodic rhythm support hides a perfect scar in its core. There’s a song to be sung here, and its name is: YOU.

Keith Jarrett Trio: The Out-of-Towners (ECM 1900)

The Out-of-Towners

Keith Jarrett Trio
The Out-of-Towners

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double-bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded live July 28, 2001 at State Opera, Munich
Engineer: Martin Pearson
Mastering: Morten Lund, Masterhuset
Produced by Manfred Eicher

With the insight of legitimate hypnotists, Keith Jarrett and his trio regress seven tunes with a flair for the unexpected. Recorded live at Munich’s State Opera in July of 2001, an especially productive year for the band, the performance whispers into life with a piano intro before waxing nostalgic in a sunny rendition of “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me.” Jarrett, of course, shines at every turn, but his phenomenal rhythm section has rarely sounded more luminescent. Light in their step and playful in their virtuosity, Jarrett’s sidemen exude effortlessness. Peacock is worth singling out in this opening tune, in which he departs from his usual twang in favor of a smoother, subtler extroversion. He reverts to his tried and true in a rendition of “You’ve Changed” that turns to melted butter in the trio’s hands. With Jarrett’s delicate anchorage behind him, the bassist picks away at edifice of the song’s confusion to a core of resolve. Jarrett pours on the honey for the rejoinder, DeJohnette all the while brushing like the wings of a dying insect, swishing to the rhythm of a broken heart. Brushes turn to cymbals in an effervescent take on Cole Porter’s “I Love You,” which finds the drummer running a parallel course of emotional freedom alongside Jarrett. Artful solos abound.

The freely improvised title cut is a gem. Over its 20-minute vamp, the trio plays with such looseness that it can only cohere by sheer depth of listening. Peacock is the conductor of this epic train, DeJohnette adding dynamite charge to the rails throughout the ride. The follow-up is a crystalline “Five Brothers.” This tune by the great Gerry Mulligan is the very definition of smooth. Jarrett’s punch and charisma here exhaust the barriers around his concluding solo, a heart-stilling rendering of “It’s All In The Game.” Thus sworn by sunset, he walks into a darkening horizon, where rests the origins of these gifts, so selflessly given, which like the figures on the album’s cover are almost gone from view the moment we realize they were within us all along.

Keith Jarrett Trio: up for it (ECM 1860)

up for it

Keith Jarrett Trio
up for it

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double-bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded live on July 16, 2002, La Pinède Gould 42nd Festival de Jazz d’Antibes, Juan-les-Pins, France
Engineer: Martin Pearson
Executive producer: Manfred Eicher

One of the liveliest of lives for the Keith Jarrett Trio, up for it celebrates two decades behind the wheel of this purring vehicle. Jarrett and his peerless backing flaunt their way through a set of eight tunes, each dropping its own distinct fruit from the branch. Indeed, in the nurturing hands of this trio, what once were chestnuts sprout into mighty trees in and of themselves.

Jarrett leads the trio in a rollicking good time with “If I Were A Bell” (Frank Loesser). Proceeding with airy confidence, the trio floods the ether with reflections sublime, sophisticated, and piquant, Peacock and DeJohnette holding the line as few rhythm sections can. Thus supported, Jarrett manifests some of his most delightful playing on record. “Butch & Butch” (Oliver Nelson) gets an invigorating treatment that reaches new levels of tasteful abandon. Each musician feeds off the others in a golden braid of inspiration. Jarrett hangs the most sparkling, whimsical ornaments from this many-spindled tree, while DeJohnette fires on all cylinders in his solo dives.

As incendiary as these three can be, it’s in the ballads where they stoke the deepest hued fires. Ballads are also where Jarrett extends the breadth of his flavors with some of the most creative intros in the business. Take, as one of countless instances, the pentatonic lilt that smoothes into as heartfelt a rendition of “My Funny Valentine” as the seasoned fan is likely to hear. Yet there is more to this ballad than meets the eye, as Jarrett & Co. run off its cliff into a scintillating hang-glide. Even Peacock, a normally grounded player, gets airborne in his hollow-boned solo. “Someday My Prince Will Come” is another standby to which Peacock adds so much life. Whether in solo or support, he flirts with the keys in rich, figural language. DeJohnette, meanwhile, builds a house of cards and hits each out of the air with his sticks as it falls into new deck order. The greatest of the album’s hits is undoubtedly “Autumn Leaves,” a tune that seems to sprout a new limb at Jarrett’s command with every iteration. In this especially coordinated take, it effervesces like never before and morphs into the title closer, a Jarrett original of spunk and verve that links back to the ritually minded improvisations of Always Let Me Go.

Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple From The Apple” is, along with “Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West” (by John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet), a newcomer in the trio’s arsenal. The first breezes along with carefree ebullience, grabbing just enough wind in its sails to reach the island it seeks. The second stops to light up a smoke in a sparsely populated part of town. With suitcase at the feet and a Want Ad section tucked under the arm, our hapless protagonist takes in the prospect of a new day in stride. Such gritty realism is the truth behind Jarrett’s mastery. As transcendent as he is, his playing rests on a foundation of complicated experience, fatigue, and uncertainty: the mothers of all invention.

Keith Jarrett Trio: Always Let Me Go (ECM 1800/01)

Always Let Me Go

Keith Jarrett Trio
Always Let Me Go

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double-bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded April 2001 at Orchard Hall and Bunka Kaikan, Tokyo
Recording Engineer: Yoshihiro Suzuki
Produced by Manfred Eicher and Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett is infinity with two hands. Few have ever molded the keyboard into such prosthesis of expression. Yet while he and his nonpareil cohorts—bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette—have repeatedly proven affinity for expanding, sometimes breaking down, the borders of many a jazz standard, relatively miniscule in the trio’s archive is its entirely unscripted output. And while we have gotten tastes of that archive in such albums as Inside Out and Changeless, this double-disc release is formidable for being, from start to finish, purely in the moment. One of the beauties of the album, recorded live in Tokyo over two nights, is that the longer pieces (upwards of 35 minutes) are actually the most concentrated, while the briefer ones (the shortest being under four minutes) are spacious and flossy.

At 32 minutes, “Hearts in Space” is a vivid example of the former. Jarrett opens the pathway with some galactic patterning indeed, which his rhythmatists then re-craft into a drum-infused satellite, its circuits frantic yet pure. The bassist is, in fact, the fulcrum of this opener, although Jarrett and DeJohnette do more than simply lob quasars of activity over him. Together these three strands form a braid stronger than the sum of their parts. Through their art, the surrounding air becomes enigmatically complete, so that even as the mood brightens onto a smoother avenue, where Jarrett has crushed the gravel so finely that the shocks of presumption no longer need bounce, one can still feel the storm in the calm. With Peacock’s intimate scaffolding behind him, Jarrett perseveres through some swing into a spontaneous standard, leaving a tailwind to inhale its absence.

Jarrett exhales “The River” with rearview mirror tilted anew. His glassine block chords and trailing chromatics weave a reverie so holy, tender, and mild that it sings without words. Following naturally from this is “Tributaries,” which paints with DeJohnette’s cymbal droplets, Peacock’s broad ripples, and Jarrett’s fairy-steps an image of mythical cast. The musicians’ trembling glitters like gold at the bottom of the Rhine, describing it not as temptation or curse, but out of a love of ignorance, of travel and movement. DeJohnette’s toms ease us onto the spiritual angles of this scene in arching ritual, tightening even as they loosen in shimmering afterglow. The drummer leads further in “Paradox,” pouring copious amounts of bourbon onto Jarrett’s jagged rocks while Peacock savors every sip with mmms of approval. An inherent free spirit works its way through the fissures here especially, manifesting as audible smiles.

Another pianistic reverie rises and falls throughout “Waves” like the chest of personified time. Peacock creeps into frame, his bass neck a periscope in search of land. This it finds, lured by the sun-glitter of cymbals. Once ashore, the trio hits the sand running, gathering provisions and making shelter in the blink of an eye. The end effect, although illusory, bleeds in tectonic shifts and opens dynamic memories across genres and histories. This summary approach takes deepest root in DeJohnette’s explosive wellsprings and rat-a-tatted closing statements and brightens his torch in the consonant admixture of children’s riddles and adult solutions that is “Facing East.” Its island hopping ways spill over into “Tsunami,” which like its eponym begins with imperceptible bubbles and curling undercurrents. By the time one realizes its proportions, its power cannot be avoided. So it crashes, leaving stillness and piles of grief. In the aftermath is “Relay,” a buoyant circumscription of energy that, by virtue of its dotted boundaries, leaves the trio free to roam inwardly to heart’s content where the external world will not allow.

Always Let Me Go may not be to everyone’s liking, but it was undoubtedly gifted with everyone in mind. In it are the dreams of a gentle giant, together a fraction of some unquantifiable composition. Although the giant may stir, the spell is never broken. It waits for that window of slumber to open and welcome us to the fold of its light.

Keith Jarrett Trio: Inside Out (ECM 1780)

Inisde Out

Keith Jarrett Trio
Inside Out

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock double-bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded July 26 and 28, 2000 at Royal Festival Hall, London
Engineer: Martin Pearson
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Of his approach to this 2001 album, recorded live the year before in London, pianist Keith Jarrett says, “Don’t ask. Don’t think. Don’t anticipate. Just participate.” Where for so long he and his partners Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette had served up piping hot new takes on old recipes, here they decided to do away with all that and, with the exception of their version of the evergreen “When I Fall In Love” that concludes, let the music create itself. What in others’ hands would have been a risky venture turns into a balanced, intuitive record from these most capable sound-smiths.

Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette are undoubtedly masters of their craft, but each album has tended to highlight the skills of one over the others. In this case, DeJohnette is the trio’s North Star. He breaks in the stage like a good pair of shoes, making oil from grit and smoothing the way for Jarrett’s spontaneous fountains at every turn. With a freshness that recalls his Special Edition days, he emboldens the tessellated “From The Body” in such a way that Jarrett’s freestyle analyses can shed fullest sunlight on the unfolding story. Of that story, we get floods of exposition in a sandwich of registers. Peacock muscles his way through with a twangy abandon that characterizes so much of his playing from the period, leaving at the bottom of this crucible a pianism so angelic that it pulls itself skyward until it reaches the beginning of itself.

DeJohnette unpacks further brilliance in the equally jagged title track, which along with the first starts big and works down to the finer core before rebuilding from that core something new and glorious. His powerful brushwork and meditative swing treats every strand as if it were a means to an end and leaves Jarrett to explore their finer implications in a bluesy afterglow. The latter’s right hand has a mind of its own as it skips its way across the keyboard. “341 Free Fade” opens with tantalizing string games from Peacock, bringing back the trio’s tried and true formula of building molecules from atoms. DeJohnette delights yet again, his hi-hat carrying a heavy load into outer space as he tinkers gorgeously around the halo of its kit. And after leading the way through the foot-stomping ritual that is “Riot,” he opens the pathway to genius with his cymbals in “When I Fall In Love.” By means of barest whisper, he stargazes, trusting life’s stresses to Jarrett’s hands and setting them to fly like pieces of paper above a campfire—glowing as they rise, turning into patches of night, indistinguishable from the rest.

Inside Out is unafraid to live up to its title. Although on the surface it seems more abstract than might a typical standards outing, you may just find yourself lulled by its inherent, not to mention accessible, profundity. Were the album a genetic experiment, each track would be a kink in the DNA helix that makes its bearer unique.

Keith Jarrett Trio: At The Blue Note – The Complete Recordings (ECM 1575-80)

Keith Jarrett Trio
At The Blue Note – The Complete Recordings

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded June 3–5, 1994, New York
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

When Keith Jarrett opens Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” the first off this monumental document of a weekend’s Blue Note concerts in June of 1994, we feel right at home. Sharing the stage with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, he epitomizes balance of fire and grace in the famed jazz club’s intimate and hallowed confines. But there is, of course, nothing confining about the 7-hour journey on which the listener has just embarked, for as Peacock spreads his fingers wide, fanning the flames over DeJohnette’s never-hackneyed rat-a-tat-tat, we understand that this is something more than music. It’s art, pure and simple.

So begins the first of three glorious nights of (mostly) standards from the trio that rewrote them all. What follows is a veritable train of the tried and true, which lets off the Gershwins at one station with “How Long Has This Been Going On,” Charlie Parker at another (“Now’s The Time”), and J. J. Johnson at still another (“Lament”). Peacock’s improvisational arc is their running spine, binding page after page of archival paper with insoluble glue. Jarrett manages to float throughout the livelier locks of “While We’re Young,” “Oleo,” and “If I Were A Bell,” the latter of which requires a pair of binoculars to spot DeJohnette, so high does he soar. The second Friday set also proves fertile ballad ground, tugging at the heartstrings “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning.” Here Peacock eases in almost unawares—a gradation of sunset from pink to orange—and turns drums into whispers. “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be” is another highlight, closing out the night with a gospel edge.

“Autumn Leaves,” which for my money no one plays better, kicks off Saturday’s tour de force at the astronomical length of nearly 27 minutes. But make no mistake: not a single note is wasted. Between Peacock’s beautifully ascending lines and Jarrett’s open O of ecstatic communication with the gods of improvisation, to say nothing of the fine swinging of the sticks from DeJohnette, there is always something to admire with each new listen. “Days of Wine and Roses” spreads one royal jazz flush across the poker table, giving us some of the set’s most unified moments, while a likeminded rendition of “When I Fall in Love” underscores Peacock, who is every bit as deft as Jarrett at unpacking the motives at hand for all they’re worth. “How Deep Is The Ocean” is a perfect example of Jarrett’s skills as an introducer, bringing us as he does into the atmosphere of the piece before the vamp rears its familiar head. Fresher moments abound in “I’ll Close My Eyes.” A crisp joint that snaps like a snow pea, its affirming energies feed Jarrett’s most phenomenal solo of the entire package. Spinning his chromatic staircases as if he were a lighthouse builder in a parallel night, he adds flesh to every bone. As Friday ended in Pentacost, so Saturday ends in the blues with “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be.”

Which leads us into the dynamic visions of Sunday’s closing sets. The first takes the smooth (“My Romance”) with the tempestuous (“La Valse Bleue”), the flustered (“You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”) with the thrilling (“Straight, No Chaser”). The second adopts a more meditative approach, melting in Jarrett’s own “Desert Sun.” One of a smattering of originals, it unfolds like a solo concert piece, made all the richer for the presence of his incomparable sidemen. Like “Partners” (appearing twice on the album) and “Bop-Be,” it is a standalone story, a new chapter in a book that may never be finished. “No Lonely Nights” is another personal trip and finds its composer pouring on the starlight like syrup over pancakes. The remaining half of his tunes grow out of shorter standards, turning, for example, “On Green Dolphin Street” into a 21-minute jam with the addition of “Joy Ride.” So, too, with “You Don’t Know What Love Is” (augmented by Jarrett’s “Muezzin”) and “I Fall In Love Too Easily,” which submits to “The Fire Within.” And where else could such sustained brilliance come from?

Just when you think you’ve picked a favorite guide out of this trio for these sentimental journeys, another swoops in to take his place. In spite of their seemingly unstoppable flow, they always know when to take pause, to let the air breathe with the heads and tails of something new. And while I’d never recommend limiting oneself to a single recording by this groundbreaking group, for deep-end swimmers you can’t go wrong with this dive. As a live document alone, it will stand the test of time. The only downside is that you may feel sad at not having been there when all of this went down. Thankfully, through this treasure of a recording, we can trick ourselves into thinking that we were. The only standards worth sharing, says Jarrett in his liner notes, are the highest ones, and at the Blue Note you’ll find nothing but. This is where it’s at.

Keith Jarrett Trio: Standards In Norway (ECM 1542)

Keith Jarrett Trio
Standards In Norway

Keith Jarrett piano
Gary Peacock bass
Jack DeJohnette drums
Recorded October 7, 1989, Konserthus, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

One is hard-pressed to find fault in any Keith Jarrett Trio live album, and Standards In Norway is no exception. “All Of You” starts this exquisite set on a delightful note, filling the space with the palpitations of a joyful heart. Peacock jumps right in with the first solo of the night, as nimble as always, as he is also in “Little Girl Blue.” Tender and dulcet, this softly brushed ballad reaches an organic level of storytelling that finds each musician totally committed. That being said, one can single out certain displays over others. We are astonished by DeJohnette in “Just In Time” and in “Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing” (or is it a many-splendored swing, the trio seems to ask). Again by Peacock, who gleams both sides of the cube, now fragile in “Dedicated To You,” now livening up the joint in “I Hear A Rhapsody.” And of course by Jarrett, who draws the timelessness of “Old Folks” in his subtlest rendition yet, wrapping our awe in sonic pastry and baking it to the consistency of perfect filo. “How About You?” ends the set with inescapable optimism and tumultuous applause.

Mesmerizing, the only word.