Haven't had time to listen to all of the six discs involved yet but this must be one of the finest jazz trios of all time. Keith Jarrett must be classed as a musical genius and Gary Peacock & Jack DeJohnette are not far behind. It's a club recording but you wouldn't know it until the applause kicks in - the audience reverence is palpable. What I have listened to is marvellous and the choice of material by the trio is, as always, perfect.
Choosing the perfect Keith Jarrett Trio recording for purchase can be bewildering for a new listener. There's a vast amount of it, it's all very well recorded, none of it is groundbreaking and there has been amazingly little stylistic development for the trio in the twenty-five-years-plus that it has been going. If you're going to buy any, why not just go for a nice single disc such as Tokyo '96? Why buy an expensive six-disc boxed set at all?
Live at the Blue Note is not important like some other multi-night sets in jazz history; it doesn't represent a short-lived configuration for the group, or a breakthrough in style, or a particular highpoint. There is little "importance" to these three nights, yet this has not stopped Blue Note becoming virtually the touchstone recording for fans of the trio.
I suspect that one of the reasons that fans love this set is that it is some of the most exploratory jazz that the trio have played. The key example is "Autumn Leaves": I have three other versions of this song by this group, and they are all good, but - at 26 minutes - this version is the most extraordinary. About half way through Jarrett moves into an extended invention which, while true to the original song, comes closer in spirit to a solo improvisation beautifully supported by Peacock and DeJohnette.
In a sense, the excitement is generated here by what the group does with three nights. At half an hour, "Desert Sun" is an extended modal vamp like he sometimes plays solo, but here the contributions from his fellow musicians (including a notable solo spot for the drums) give it a different sort of intensity.
Despite the occasional flights of fancy, though, this is still a very solid standards set with plenty of Jarrett's signature balladeering on tracks such as "When I Fall In Love" or "Skylark". There is so little duplication across the discs that it could almost be mistaken for a "best of", which is ironic really, since in many respects that is exactly what it is.
This set is simply "one of the ones you have to get" if you are interested in Jarrett. Although much of it is leisurely (almost sleepy) at times there are many readings here that would go straight into any fan's list of the best of the trio's work.
This astonishing boxed set from the standards trio justifies a long essay as a minimum to do it justice. I will restrict myself to talking about a few tracks only.
Disc 5 starts with a track 21 minutes long. After a slightly disguised Piano introduction Jarrett begins a long exploration of "On Green Dolphin Street". This swings like hell in places, is occasionally a little funky, and is never less than very inventive. Just after 8 minutes the first Piano solo ends! After a brief interlude of bass solo and drums/Piano exchanges the theme comes back and seamlessly becomes "Joy Ride" at around 12 minutes. This is one of Keith's own compositions and has a calypso feel to it. Well you can guess that he gets into this in a big way and the drive and interplay between the musicians justs gets better and better. This track alone made the boxed set worth getting.
The other highlights on disc 5 are a rapid version of "You'd be so nice to come home to" and great version of Monks "Straight No Chaser".
Of particular interest to me were two versions of "Things Ain't What They Used To Be". You will hear Jarrett use blues licks in his solos, but not often do hear him play an entire piece in a bluesy/gospel style. This is fantastic stuff, driven along by some great bass by Gary Peacock.
I can't do justice to the set of 6 discs here. If you're a Jarrett fan and you don't have this collection, you should have. Likewise anybody interested in Piano trio Jazz should consider this an essential purchase. Its a shame more artists don't put out sets like this - although my bank manager might disagree.
Although the cover of the box set doesn't say so, this is not a Jarrett solo set, but the 'Standards' trio, consisting of Jarrett, DeJohnette and Gary Peacock, recorded in the intimacy of the Blue Note over just three days in 1995. I say 'intimacy' because, judging by the applause, I'd be surprised if there were more than 300 in the audience. And you get frequent reminders that they are there -- on CD#1, track #1, around 7:10, you can hear a wine bottle go tumbling! It's so hard to pin Jarrett down. He's produced excellent group work (e.g. 'Survivors' and 'Nude Ants'), solo albums (e.g. 'Vienna' and 'Dark Intervals'), solo classical (e.g. Handel) and the experimental (e.g. 'Spheres' and 'Arbour Zena'). Previously I've found the Standards trio to be the least compelling aspect of his output -- it's tempting, on first hearing, to put it in the 'dinner jazz' category which so many other trios have successfully played. Jarrett's own compositions are of such a high calibre that it seems almost wasteful to have the band play largely other composers' songs. Perhaps it helps to have seen the trio perform on video or DVD, then you realise how special the band is. In the Japanese concert I have, Jarrett seems to spend over half the concert playing the concert standing up (and dancing rather strangely!). Jarrett's scat-singing is also, uhm, unusual -- I doubt whether he was taught the technique at the Juilliard. Although not budget-priced, it's impossible to fault this collection, and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the range of songs that the band played over three days, in two 65-minute sets per day.
These wonderful discs contain some of the most beautiful moments in trio jazz ever recorded. Keith Jarrett has hinted at this level of jazz on previous releases & hasnt really reached the same dizzy heights achieved here. Thats not to say his other cd's arent good. Its just the music here is so good that anything thats followed cant compete. But where to start. Anywhere really, as you can dip in here & there & still find excellant jazz. My personel favourite is 'I Fall In Love Too Easily' which start so fragile but transcends into 'The Fire Within' which holds you in such an intense rapture you hope the song doesnt end. Being on disc 5 its very tempting to ingnore the final disc as you will want to hear this song again & again but you'll be missing out on more great jazz. How did Keith Jarrett follow this. Well, in my view he hasnt.....yet. But I will continue to listen to his music in the hope he will again achieve the power & passion his playing is here. NB This also makes a perfect companion to his Sun Bear concerts box set. Buy & enjoy always