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Two Recent Jarrett Releases on ECM

This release is up there with other output from the Standards Trio, with plenty to enjoy.

This release is up there with other output from the Standards Trio, with plenty to enjoy.

  • Somewhere - with the trio, Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums
  • Last Dance - with Charlie Haden on bass

There's a consistency with Jarrett, at least when it comes to the playing of standards. Everyone doesn't love his solo piano concerts (typically, I'll find if you do like them, you may not like all of them, depending on the style Keith has adopted… I find in some I like some of the movements and skip the others, YMMV). He's done a lot of different work, of course, and I'm one of those fans who has purchased quite a few of his albums, and I generally feel when a new one comes out, it's a safe bet I'll like it.

I've read that this was recorded on a tour in 2009. Six tracks, with Deep Space/Solar taking 15 minutes and Somewhere/Everywhere taking almost 20 minutes. The second track builds on Bernstein's West Side Story song, but reminds me somewhat of his track from the Blue Note box set The Fire Within. (Incidentally, that's probably my single favorite track by the trio, ever.) The Somewhere track, however, opens in a quasi atonal land, which seems to fit the album artwork especially well. The solo piano rattles the drums (at least that's what I think I'm hearing, instead of DeJohnette adding that with his brushes). Tonality is woven in, and then of course, the rest of the ensemble. It's a great concert opener, and I think would draw people in. (If he stayed atonal for the whole thing, well, that might drive a few away…) The piece evolves eventually into a great rendition of Solar.

Other pieces include Stars Fell on Alabama, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Tonight from West Side Story, and I thought it was you. Tonight carries with it a lot of energy and drive. It comes about as tasteful as you could imagine.

Listening with headphones (Sennheiser 650s, if you care) the piano and drum kit is emphasized over Peacock's bass. Otherwise, it's a good recording, and in case you're wondering, Keith doesn't call out too much in this release.

In Last Dance we continue with Keith and Charlie, where they left off in Jasmine. The sound world is a little different, with a much more dampened-sound, which isn't necessarily bad, but it's not as bright as the trio recording. With the same set up, the bass and piano seem equally paired.

9 tracks in total, and in case you're wondering, Keith is easier to hear in this one vocalizing. It has never particularly bothered me, I accept it.

The first three tracks are rather mellow then Dance of the Infidels picks up the tempo a bit, which is also the shortest track at 4:23. Where Can I go without You is given a 2nd taste in this record, with an alternate version from Jasmine. It's fine by me, as I like the song.

This is a difficult review to write knowing that Mr. Haden just recently passed. It was released just shortly by ECM before he died. The title, and that of two tracks Every Time We Say Goodbye, and Goodbye are apt given that a new opportunity will not arise for a collaboration.

That said, there's something less satisfying about this release compared to the first, reviewed above. I think the live concert works because it was planned as a concert; the opening is ethereal and opens the mind; it moves into familiar territory; fast songs alternate with slow, and then after a piece so full of energy, the trio takes their time with the last piece. There's an arc, and maybe even a story to be told. In Last Dance as with Jasmine, the sameness of tempi between pieces reminds me more of a classical set of suite pieces, where you might pick a smaller selection in one sitting to enjoy.

Both releases, however, live up to the high quality Jarrett and his colleagues have put out in the past, and I am certain you'll find many hours of enjoyment with either one.

This is part 2 of Haden's private collaboration with Jarrett in his home studio, following their earlier release  Jasmine .

This is part 2 of Haden's private collaboration with Jarrett in his home studio, following their earlier release Jasmine.

J.S. Bach Foundation

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