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Keith Jarrett "Standards" Trio at the Earshot Jazz Festival

Keith Jarrett

Introducing the Keith Jarrett Trio, Paul Nelson of KPLU-FM repeated to the capacity audience something that Jarrett told him: “What I do is turn energy into music.” That credo by proxy contained the pianist’s only words of the evening. Before the imposing backdrop of rich woods and towering organ pipes in the home of the Seattle Symphony, Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette delivered on the audience’s expectations at this key concert in the final week of Seattle’s 11-day Earshot Jazz Festival.

In the wake of the trio’s new ECM CD, Inside Out, the question hanging in the air of Benaroya Hall was whether they would follow up with more free jazz or play the standards that gave the band its nickname. The answer was both, but mostly standards. Ruminating through a long, unaccompanied introduction, Jarrett led the way into an “On Green Dolphin Street” that might have been a tribute to Bill Evans. He saturated his solo with Evans voicings and rhythmic figures. Some listeners complained later that the bass sound was mushy, but from where I sat, the size of Peacock’s tone, the precision of his attack, his perfection of note choices, were perfectly projected. DeJohnette’s drums were overamplified, so that the listener’s ear had to attempt to correct the balance the audio operator should have established in a sound check. DeJohnette’s four-bar exchanges with Jarrett and Peacock initiated among the three smiles and nods of affirmation that continued for two hours. There was no evidence of Jarrett’s reputation for prickliness. They were having a good night of empathy and interaction, and it showed on their faces.

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