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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Setting Standards

ECM 173 7344





1. Meaning of the Blues
2. All the Things You Are
3. It Never Entered My Mind
4. The Masquerade Is Over
5. God Bless the Child

1. So Tender
2. Moon And Sand
3. In Love In Vain
4. Never Let Me Go
5. If I Should Lose You
6. I Fall In Love Too Easily.
1. Flying, Part 1
2. Flying, Part 2
3. Prism

Keith Jarrett - Piano

Gary Peacock - Double bass

Jack DeJohnette - Drums

This is a boxed set of the first three albums recorded by Keith Jarrett's "Standards Trio". The recordings were made in less than three days at New York's Power Station studio in 1983, and have been reissued now to mark the trio's 25th anniversary. It is interesting to compare this with the album My Foolish Heart, which was recorded in 2001 and which I am reviewing concurrently.

The first thing to strike the listener is that, whereas the 2001 album was punctuated by Keith Jarrett's shouts of pleasure or approval, the music here is accompanied by Jarrett's almost continuous humming - rather in the style of Glenn Gould. It is more intrusive than similar sounds made by other pianists (e.g. Oscar Peterson) and the listener has to try mentally to shut it out or learn to live with it. This reviewer was tempted to include in the personnel listing "Keith Jarrett - Piano, vocals".

The other notable difference between the two albums is that, back in 1983, Jack DeJohnette's drumming was far more restrained - even tentative - not surprisingly, as the trio was then a new venture. In fact the whole trio somehow sounds more introverted than in the 2001 recording, which had the benefit of a concert audience to stimulate the players. However, this boxed set has the advantage of a studio recording, which gives more clarity to Gary Peacock's bass (particularly his solos), although Jack DeJohnette's drums tend to sound distant, as if they were placed at the back of the studio or in a separate booth.

The tentative approach is evident in most tracks on the first CD, although God Bless the Child has the jazz-rock pulse that Jarrett used in other albums like Ruta and Daitya (which also used DeJohnette). The generally understated mood continues into the second CD - but this is not to say that the music lacks eloquence. In fact a track like Never Let Me Go is full of lyricism - both from Jarrett's piano and Peacock's double bass. And Keith's own composition, So Tender, develops into a sprightly dance.

The third CD, Changes, doesn't consist of standards but comprises a couple of excursions into free improvisation and the mysterious Prism, in which the bass shadows the piano. The two free tracks make more sense than much avant-garde stuff, suggesting that the trio already had mutual empathy, which was a good omen for their future. The other album I referred to, My Foolish Heart, proves that they had a future and perhaps that they improved with time. Yet strangely that double CD seems to cost more than this triple-CD box!

Tony Augarde





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