Review: Keith Jarrett Standards Trio

Keith Jarrett / Gary Peacock / Jack DeJohnette
(Royal Festival Hall, 27th July 2011) 

Those untameable, disconsolate beasts, social media commentators, have been giving Keith Jarrett a hard time. Or do I mean “We….”?

Rather than paying attention to the music, there is one who posts as @angryjarrett on Twitter (strapline “Are you taping this? ARE YOU FREAKIN’ TAPING THIS?”). Another goes by the moniker of @fakejarrett . And those with an appetite for controversy, or a perverse need to see the artist humbled, can be sated by tracking down a Youtube clip (160,000 views) of Jarrett losing his patience with people with cameras at UmbriaJazz in 2007.

If I have to be true to the stereotype of the blogger and complain at all about last night, then all I that can find would be that Jack DeJohnette was occasionally overbalancing. This was an approach which worked well in Ornette Coleman’s “When will the Blues leave?” with rims and casings producing unusual and anarchic textures, but less so at other times.

But, in the final analysis, are the seekers-out of controversy and small gripes really representative, well, of anybody? On the evidence of last night’s packed Royal Festival Hall concert by the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, it is clear that the population of devotees, accumulated over decades, is larger, by far, than that of the malcontents.

 Listen to the recent duo album Jasmine, with Charlie Haden, and the impression is of a musician getting progressively calmer, mellower. Jarrett got a reputation for petulance in a brief period about 3-4 years ago when other aspects of his life were in turmoil. Yes,  Jack DeJohnette did plead with the audience, at Jarrett’s request, to put their phone-cameras away. There were warnings in the hall about taping and photographing which did come across as draconian, heavy-handed. But in the end, these are distractions, a sideshow. It is the music which has to speak for itself. And it did, consistently.

One didn’t have to look very far to see the way in which the audience takes Jarrett to its heart. I noticed a man in a seat near me reaching out to find his wife’s hand in the particularly melting introduction to Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays.” I also read the spontaneous reaction of pianist Andrew McCormack on Facebook last night: “The intro to ‘In Your Own Sweet Way’ was worth the admission price alone!”

But most telling was the audience’s reaction to the end of the official second set. There was whooping, cheering. A significant proportion of the spectators was up on its feet. And they were duly rewarded. The first encore, “God bless the child” was by my watch not far short of fifteen minutes long, and was followed by three others.

Reputation is a lagging indicator. Jarrett is back on form.

Produced by Serious for the South Bank Centre

Categories: miscellaneous

2 replies »

  1. I was lucky enough to be at the concert with my son and his partner. A great evening, I don't think I've ever come across a pianist who plays ballads as well as Jarrett. There is a wonderful synergy between the Trio, perhaps not surprising given how long they've been together. I never thought I'd get the chance to see them live but they made a 300 mile journey really worthwhile for me.

  2. Keith Jarrett Trio playing 'All the things you are ' …

    WOW is the exclamation for this simmering, tingling performance; Jarrett knows where he is going with this Jazz Standards and carries the rhythm with absolute rapport and wizardy.


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