Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette – The Out-of-Towners (2004)

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by Mark Saleski

Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette. Piano, bass, drums. A rational person might ask, “Do we really need another live record from these people?” The answer, at least in my book (and I may not be rational), is a big yes.

This trio, though they do have chops galore, is mostly about feeling and the ability to listen. The word “interplay” becomes nearly irrelevant. They’ve gone way beyond mere “interplay”. It’s even possible that “telepathy” doesn’t quite put the picture into focus. They’re that good.

Perhaps even more amazing is the creative juice being squeezed from standards. It has been argued (not by me!) that Keith Jarrett and Co. can push familiar material too far towards “out”. From The Out-of-Towners, an example might be Cole Porter’s “I Love You”. Certainly Porter never intended for there to be a drum solo in his tune. But … Porter never heard Jack DeJohnette. Still, I bet Porter would have appreciated the way all three of these instruments appear to be playing simultaneous lead and support roles.

Jarrett’s description of the trio: “We are different people, and the alchemy we get when we play together comes from our separate natures. But no description can make a person as great as I feel Jack and Gary are. We’ve been together so long, we understand each other’s language, and we trust each other 100%.” There’s no better illustration of this all-at-once thing than on the the title track. It’s a bluesy, extended group improvisation where Peacock’s bass seems to continuously taunt Jarrett’s piano while Jack DeJohnette builds, destroys, and then re-builds the supporting rhythmic structure.

And it swings like mad.

Recorded in Munich at the State Opera, The Out-of-Towners opens with Jarrett’s improvised solo introduction before heading off into the full trio take on “I Can’t Believe That You’re In Love With Me”. The sound is that typical live ECM thing, managing to get jazz club intimacy out of a concert hall. The muscularity of Peacock’s bass, the beautiful dry DeJohnette ride cymbal, it’s all right there.

The aforementioned mid-set title workout leads into the seemingly straight “Five Brothers” by Gerry Mulligan. Somewhere in the middle of those eleven minutes and twelve seconds, we’re treated to a twisty, angular, but still swingin’ bass improvisation, bracketed by lots of spirited piano soloing. Jarrett finishes off the set with a warm solo version of the romantic “It’s All In The Game.”

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