pianist Keith Jarretts latest release, showcases pristine piano playing,
fluid runs, flowing chord progressions, and a clarion piano sound nurtured by
the walking bass lines of Gary Peacock and relentless swing of drummer Jack
other recent releases such as Whisper Not (1999) and Up for It
(2002), The Out-of-Towners offers a generous snapshot sampling of three
of jazzs finest musicians sharing their musical wit and astounding synergistic
Releasing nearly an album a year for over 20 years with the same band members
is remarkable in any day and age. When asked if he has plans for retirement
any time soon, bassist Gary Peacock kids, For many people, retirement
is moving to Boca Raton, Florida, playing golf, and attending cocktail parties.
Essentially, they start doing what they want to be doing. I retired when I was
19. Ive been doing what I wanted to be doing for the past 40 to 50 years.
This undying dedication to musicianship pushes the groups members to continue
to dig deep to conjure up the most in-the-moment swing sounds. Jarrett and his
trio do not contour their pieces in advance, but rather, they harness the live
setting to occupy a musical space unreachable for most.
Why, then, might one be quick to scoff at Jarretts latest installment?
Jarrett has long been heralded as a precipice of piano players, but on a fair
number of occasions has garnered criticism from certain scorners. Some see Jarretts
playing as simple melodic variations or meandering note clusters. The harshest
critic in this vein of argument might even propose that his seemingly
dazzling legato lines go nowhere and feel like hollow technical shows of wizardry.
But this criticism arrives ill-placed, for if Jarrett were a new kid out on
the scene, no self-proclaimed jazz zealot could ever verbally misconstrue his
playing in such a manner. Instead, they would be ringing the bells of praise.
This disdain stems from expectations of what the music should sound like rather
than allowing it to sound how it naturally evolves.
Depending on what musical angle one hears the music from, our responses invariably
differ. People are listening at different levels, from all purposes and
positions, says bassist Gary Peacock. Some use music for background.
For others, it helps them study, read, or get through the day. Some invoke music
as a soundtrack to life. Or, as is often the case with jazz, As
an analytic device. Just become what you are listening to, Peacock suggests.
Once you begin to explain art, you miss it.
Make no mistake - Keith Jarrett is a total musician. Just check out his brilliant
interpretations of Mozarts concertos and then stretch your ear on his
free playing album, Always Let Me Go (2002). Granted, neither album may
equal ones personal satisfaction with some other album, but no artist
can maximally please all his listeners all the time.
By playing music in the moment, Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette transcend both
space and time as they navigate forms, harmonic schemes, and meters. In so doing,
they accept and move into uncharted musical spaces.
While playing, Jarrett seeks total immersion in the moment. It is hard to tell
whether Jarretts head-voice humming encourages his fingers to take a certain
route, or vice versa.
To really appreciate the music requires a willingness to disappear into
the music at hand without concern of what it should sound like and what it shouldnt,
says Peacock. This willingness to suspend judgment not only helps the listener
catch the more subtle corners of the music, but also permits a big-picture appreciation
of the trios work over time.
When you become whatever it is youre listening to, a huge world
opens up so far beyond what you can possibly imagine, remarks Peacock.
Just lose yourself, he says. Drown yourself in the musical
space that opens up. Know this space will be manifested and just trust the possibility
that it awaits. So, make yourself available for that.
Unless you really shut off the chatter-box, you cant hear the evolution
of the music, elucidates Peacock. Peacock, like Jarrett and DeJohnette,
brings a certain sense of urgency that both grounds and helps him to surrender
to the music. If we felt inadequate or thought we had to maintain a statement
or image, that would kill the music in a second. Weve nothing to prove.
Nothing to protect. Nothing we feel we need to say. Nothing we aspire towards.
Just the music is left.