Friday, May 25, 2018

Keith Jarrett - Gary Peacock - Jack DeJohnette - 2007 "My Foolish Heart"

My Foolish Heart is a double live album by American pianist Keith Jarrett's "Standards Trio" featuring Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette recorded in concert in July 2001 at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and released on the ECM label in 2007.

Pianist Keith Jarrett's career practically invites criticism or, at the very least, intense comment. His outspokenness, his utter seriousness of intent and the resulting love-hate relationship with the audience, even his vocalisms, evoke strong responses, both pro and con, from listeners.

As the years have gone by, expectations have continued to rise, almost to the point that no matter what he does, Jarrett will fail in someone's eyes, and My Foolish Heart is no exception. However, the only issue that really matters is this: does he and, by extension, the trio, communicate with and connect to the listener?

ECM has released this double-CD live recording from the 2001 Montreux Jazz Festival as a sort of now-to-then comparison to the upcoming release Setting The Standards: New York Sessions 1983, which will mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of this trio in 2008. Any Jarrett release is an event and, when combined with Jarrett's liner notes which talk about how special this performance was, practically promises a revelatory listening experience.

Revelation is, however, a very personal thing. Since this music consists of well-known standards the magic, if it is to be found, will not be in new sounds, but in the details of the performance for those who can, or desire to, hear them.

The best jazz is the music of spontaneous, unexpected creation. It requires dynamic energy and concentration plus the seeming contradictory ability to let go, forgetting all the technique and theory and just playing. In this case, what is to be played starts with the tunes themselves, with melody. A standard is labeled as such because its construction has achieved the delicate balance between the melodic phrasing and harmony that creates something unique, and being immediately identifiable and memorable.

To treat such a creation as mere changes is to violate its sanctity, and true improvisation will maintain contact, however tenuous, with the source of the inspiration. In this respect, Jarrett is masterful and there is nary a moment on any track when it is not obvious which tune is being played. The changes are respected, but so are the melody and emotional essence of the tune, with Jarrett using the musical language of conventional bebop jazz.

Bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, acknowledged masters in their own right, obviously know Jarrett and each other extremely well. Any given performance can vary, but this one does seem to find this rhythm section in top form. DeJohnette's famous energy is controlled but white hot while Peacock, whose solos are short but meaningful, adds a delightful bounce and verve.

The trio is playing as one and this is the joy of the performance. The surprise comes with the three stride tunes, "Ain't Misbehavin,'" "Honeysuckle Rose" and "You Took Advantage Of Me," and if anyone was waiting for a reason to gush about this performance, it is here.

My Foolish Heart is an anniversary release celebrating 25 years of the Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette trio's traveling and performing together despite the rich and varied individual careers of its members. Recorded in 2001 at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Jarrett held the tape close to the vest until what he felt was the right time for release -- whatever that means. The bottom line is, listeners are very fortunate to have it. The official live offerings by this group have always been crystalline affairs of deep swinging communication, no matter the material.

Not only is My Foolish Heart no exception, it is perhaps the standard by which the others should be judged. Almost two hours in length, the program is comprised entirely of jazz and pop standards -- beginning with a tough, limber, punchy version of Miles Davis' "Four" lasting over nine minutes. That the music begins like this, so utterly strident and swaggering, full of lyric invention and energy, is almost reason enough for purchase.

The inherent commitment to the music is not measured: it's total. There are few -- if any -- groups in jazz that have been together for such a long time. And there are few groups new or old that are even capable enough to manage such a wide-ranging selection of the repertoire: from the title track and "Four" to "Oleo," "Straight, No Chaser," and even "Five Brothers"! But the selection of material is only the wrapper. What's inside it is not just the history of jazz but history in the making, because these three prove beyond all measure not only the vitality of the material but also the necessity of the trio interpretation of it, and indeed what is possible: bop, hard bop, post-bop, swing, and here even ragtime, played with all the seriousness and joy it demands.

The readings of Fats Waller's "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose" and Rodgers & Hart's "You Took Advantage of Me" are wild affairs, beautifully executed, sure, but played with the requisite emotion that new interpretations require.

On this set, these tunes have been brought out of history, out of the canon of milquetoast sweetness as diversions for the purpose of entertainment, and out into the present as revelatory statements in harmony and rhythmic and lyric invention. The interplay between Peacock and DeJohnette is utterly dynamic. The way these two not only complement but also challenge one another creates a sense of balance that allows Jarrett room for flight -- not into his own quirks as a musician, but into the entire universe of jazz. Peacock and DeJohnette solo a lot here, with in-the-pocket contributions to the melodic panorama of the music.

The ballads, too, such as the delicate reading of Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne's "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" and the curious but spot-on choice for a set closer, Cahn and James Van Heusen's "Only the Lonely," are read with such sensitivity and confidence that overly reverent interpretation (a trap for any player who risks bloodlessness) is impossible; the nature of "song" is kept as the trio offers these renditions with deep emotion and a singer's sense of space and elegance. Over 13 tunes, this band offers more surprises, delights, and jaw-dropping musical acumen than even fans believed possible.

As Jarrett writes in his liner notes, "There was no other night when we felt that we had to (almost literally) grab the audience by the throat and shake them into hearing what we were doing." Perhaps they were distracted by heat, bad sound, and lighting problems -- Jarrett speaks to these twice in his notes -- but perhaps, until they reached the ragtime segment of the set that demanded a waking response, they were just floored by the swinging intensity with which the set began.

Whatever the reason, this document is a mindblower from start to finish, and there are moments when all you can do in response is look at the box slack-jawed and wonder if what you just heard really happened. It did and it does, over and over again. This set is a magical, wondrous moment in the life of a trio when it all comes pouring out as inspiration and mastery.

Place it where you will in Jarrett's discography, My Foolish Heart is true jazz artistry.

Track listing:
CD 1

1. "Four" (Miles Davis) - 9:09
2. "My Foolish Heart" (Ned Washington, Victor Young) - 12:25
3. "Oleo" (Sonny Rollins) - 6:37
4. "What's New?" (Johnny Burke, Bob Haggart) - 7:54
5. "The Song Is You" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) - 7:43
6. "Ain't Misbehavin'" (Waller, Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf) - 6:41

CD 2

1. "Honeysuckle Rose" (Razaf, Waller) - 6:45
2. "You Took Advantage of Me" (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) - 8:54
3. "Straight, No Chaser" (Thelonious Monk) - 10:05
4. "Five Brothers" (Gerry Mulligan) - 6:36
5. "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne) - 11:09
6. "Green Dolphin Street" (Bronisław Kaper, Ned Washington) - 8:18
7. "Only the Lonely" (Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen) - 6:15

Personnel:

Keith Jarrett – piano
Gary Peacock - bass
Jack DeJohnette - drums

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