Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette – After The Fall
(ECM 6716506. CD review by Mike Collins)
The Standards Trio, Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, last performed in 2014 and the end of their 30-year collaboration was confirmed the following year. There had been 18 albums, most of them live recordings, an exhaustive oeuvre that it’s hard not to reference acoustic piano trios against, and so distinctive, a few notes is usually all it takes to identify them. Now here is a 19th with a title, After the Fall, to conjure with and two CDs’ worth of the trio to relish.
The live recording is from November 1998. It was a very particular moment in the trio’s story and Jarrett’s career. He had not performed publicly for two years having suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. This gig was, by his account, an experiment at a venue close to his home, testing his readiness to return.
The Melody At Night With You, a set of solo renditions of mainly standards was recorded in this period, nearly 12 months before this concert and released in 1999. That is almost unbearable in its balance of intimacy, fragility and expressiveness, untypically Jarrett in its lack of discursiveness. This return to public performance is a triumph also, but now bursting with fresh invention on the most familiar of material. It stands alongside the best of the released recordings, crackling with the energy that comes from the three minds moving as a unit through the music.
The repertoire is striking. Of course standards, but drawn from some of the most loved and bebop-flavoured jazz standards. Scrapple from the Apple, Bouncin with Bud, Doxy, Autumn Leaves. Moment’s Notice even gets a thorough examination. It’s a turn that pays dividends on this recording. There’s a focus and economy to themes. The opener, The Masquerade is Over, gets an intro, but thereafter it’s straight down to business and the focus seems to unlock something. Scrapple fizzes, the bebop language weaving around a long melodic arc and the stream of ideas fuse together. Standards Trio habits emerge, but are never formulaic. After another dizzying excursion on Autumn Leaves they find a hypnotic vamp and take off in a new direction. The blues One for Majid is a reminder of Jarrett’s capacity for a seemingly unstoppable flow of invention on the most basic of forms. They produce one of their viscerally infectious, country-cum-gospel grooves to re-cast Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and then close out the set with a tender reading of the trio perennial When I Fall In Love.
For devotees, this will all be pleasurably familiar, it never ‘gets old’ however. Their two-year hiatus proved to be mid-way through the eventual span of the trio, so this gig marks a significant moment and it’s magnificent.
Mike Collins is a pianist and writer based in Bath, who runs the jazzyblogman site. Twitter @jazzyblogman