JazzTimes 10: Landmark ECM Albums

In honor of the label’s 50th anniversary, a celebration of 10 crucial releases

6. Keith Jarrett: Tokyo ’96 (1998)
Truth be told, Keith Jarrett is far too prolific for any one of his ECM albums to stand in for all of them. The Köln Concert is his most famous and bestselling; his many other solo recordings have a tremendous amount to say; and both his American and European Quartets did arguably their best work for the label. Tokyo ’96, recorded with his “Standards Trio” (bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette), is a prime example of the band that has dominated the last 20 years of Jarrett’s musical career. It clearly and cleanly features his pristine single-note-line approach, his personal harmonic language, his love of ostinato and motif (check out both “I’ll Remember April” and “Autumn Leaves”), his swing (“Billie’s Bounce” is astonishing), and, for better or for worse, his self-accompaniment with vocal yelps and squawks. It also showcases perhaps better than any other recording his superlative, uncanny chemistry with this trio.

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Michael J. West

Michael J. West is a jazz journalist in Washington, D.C. In addition to his work on the national and international jazz scenes, he has been covering D.C.’s local jazz community since 2009. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader, and as such spends most days either hunkered down at a screen or inside his very big headphones. He lives in Washington with his wife and two children.