Academic journal article Notes

Keith Jarrett

Academic journal article Notes

Keith Jarrett

Article excerpt

Keith Jarrett. Setting Standards: New York Sessions. ECM 2030-32, 2008.

Is there anything more frustrating than a standards album by Keith Jarrett's brilliant trio? Put one of the finest and most inventive jazz pianists ever to touch a keyboard into a studio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, ask them to put their personal mark on some of the most enduring compositions of the American repertoire, and the results can hardly fail to be stunning. Peacock and Jarrett enjoy the kind of rapport that characterized the all-too-brief collaborative relationship of Bill Evans and Scott LaFaro, while DeJohnette has the kind of expansive tonal vocabulary that sets apart the very few truly brilliant jazz drummers from those who are merely virtuosic. But there is a problem, and it is a very large one. The problem is Jarrett's inability (or, less charitably, his unwillingness) to shut up while he plays. His vocalisms are not just noticeable; they are relentlessly intrusive and horribly ugly. He does not tend to actually sing along with his playing--if he did so the effect might be less excruciating. Instead he grunts, he groans, he whines, he coughts, he jabbers, and he never, ever, seems to stop. For reasons only producer Manfred Eicher could possibly explain, the microphones seem to be deliberately set so as to catch as much of Jarrett's vocalese as possible. …

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