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January/February 2002

Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette
Inside Out
ECM Records

In the liner notes for this wholly absorbing release, pianist Keith Jarrett makes the point that his now famous standards trio, with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette, is less about the standards themselves, and more about where the group can take them. Even at their first session in January 1983, which produced Standards: Volume One and Volume Two, they revealed a parallel universe by recording the Changes album that, all taken together, can now be seen as a manifesto of the group's intentions. Certainly, as the trio evolved, its ability to move out of the standard song form and back again created a powerful duality between the competing elements of freedom and form, such as on 1994's At the Blue Note.

If Changeless, recorded in 1987, returned to the swirling waters of freedom, it took a further 13 years for another album to reinvestigate this aspect of the trio's identity. Inside Out, recorded at London's Royal Festival Hall in July 2000, throws away the maps and is a masterful exercise in sustaining spontaneous, cogent, melodically inspired group interaction for lengthy periods of time ("From the Body" clocks in at over 23 minutes, while the title track is not much shorter). The trio, already a wonder of contemporary jazz, sees Jarrett take wing while eloquently mediating between DeJohnette's co-conspiratorial impulses and Peacock's voice of reason. Jarrett's intensity, the product of emotional honesty, still has the ability to wound-particularly when he directs his accompanists from freedom into the form of "When I Fall In Love."

Originally published in January/February 2002
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