In the history of jazz, there are no precedents or parallels for Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio. After 21 years and 18 albums (many of them multidisc sets), it is reasonable to wonder when the members of this extraordinary ensemble will exhaust one another or their chosen genre of the Great American Songbook. The answer is: not yet. On The Out-of-Towners, recorded at State Opera in Munich on July 28, 2001, the Trio sounds totally engaged in the pursuit of fresh discoveries, electric with the kind of creative energy that levitates all three off their stools.
While Jarrett has returned to certain songs frequently with this group, this album contains five standards that he has not previously recorded. Two are ballads, two are medium-fast and the fifth is a standard only in jazz circles, Gerry Mulligan's "Five Brothers." The Mulligan piece, along with the title track (the one obligatory Jarrett original), demonstrates that the first principle of Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette is to swing their butts off-their more famous proclivity for rarefied improvisational lyricism notwithstanding.
Of the ballads, "You've Changed" is quietly fervent, its fragmentation so clearly driven by deep feeling. The other ballad is the encore, a solo performance of "It's All in the Game." This sentimental song is played straight and unadorned, yet it becomes emotionally authentic, even majestic. "I Can't Believe That You're in Love With Me" opens with a free, meditative solo piano prologue, then kicks in with the full trio and flies. Cole Porter's "I Love You" takes off from the start. When Jarrett airs it out, the exhilaration comes partly from how spontaneous, subjective digressions are thrown off in profligate extravagance, but even more from how they always return seamlessly to the song.