Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette
After the Fall
In 1996, the esteemed jazz pianist Keith Jarrett was waylaid by chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), prompting serious concern he might never be able to play again. After a period of intense experimental therapy, Jarrett and his longtime associates in the popularly known Standards Trio—the all-star Hudson Valley rhythm section of bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette—reconvened at Newark's NJPAC in November 1998 for Jarrett's return to live performance. Spoiler alert: It went superbly, and the result is this superlative two-CD document containing the nearly two-hour concert.
If there's a hint of hesitation in Jarrett's solo during the opening measures of the first tune, "The Masquerade is Over," the circumspection is over very quickly, as he lets fly a torrent of stirring invention. Jarrett's playing on both discs suggests a continuous cascade as one theme subsumes another, somehow developing a precise articulation and flawlessly smooth legato simultaneously, whether skittering around the changes on Charlie Parker's "Scrapple for the Apple" or sticking a hairpin dismount on his solo on "Autumn Leaves." Peacock's upper register suffers some from a pinched, direct-to-the-board sound, though this doesn't impact his own melodic ideas and solid, effortless swing. And DeJohnette is simply a marvel throughout, inscribing into every measure a fully committed artistry that is both supportive and strikingly provocative. Even without the poignant backstory, this recording is a commanding achievement by one of the preeminent piano trios in the history of jazz. Ecmrecords.com.