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December 2000

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette
Whisper Not (Live in Paris 1999)
ECM Records

The energy that Jarrett pours into two Bud Powell pieces, "Bouncin' With Bud" and "Hallucinations," indicates that he has won his long battle with an illness that left him chronically tired. From beginning to end of this two-hour concert in Paris by his Standards Trio, Jarrett sustains power and concentration. Energy does not mean density. His playing has an attractive new spareness of line and touch that elevates the trio to an even higher plane of their celebrated interaction. There is an intriguing example of empathy in their first encore, a "Poinciana" in which the pianist, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette evoke Ahmad Jamal's treatment of the song before Peacock and Jarrett move into two choruses of intertwining improvisation.

As he does on "Groovin' High" and "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams," Jarrett begins "What Is this Thing Called Love" unaccompanied. After two choruses of lean melody on top of an insistent 6/8 left-hand pattern, Peacock, and then DeJohnette, sneak in under the piano. By the beginning of the fourth chorus, the trio is in full flight in a 12-and-a-half-minute performance that sustains power and ideas. The "arrangement" sounds unplanned. It is typical of this band's ability to achieve spontaneity without sacrificing coherence. Peacock, at the height of his powers, solos throughout with the story-telling ability of a great horn player, nowhere more effectively than on "Whisper Not." He has a magnificent walking solo on "Groovin' High." "'Round Midnight," "When I Fall in Love," "Chelsea Bridge" and "Prelude to a Kiss" come from the well of reflectiveness that produced Jarrett's ballad album, At Night Alone With You. His unaccompanied coda to "Prelude" is a small masterpiece.

Originally published in December 2000
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