Review: Keith Jarrett Trio in Vienna

Jack DeJohnette, Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock


Keith Jarrett , Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette
(Vienna Konzerthaus, July 8th. Review by George Foster)


One of the casualties of the Olympics has been the annual Festival Hall concert by Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette at the end of July following a month in Europe. This year it would have clashed with the opening of the Olympics. Since this band get together for barely a dozen concerts a year, this is a considerable loss to London.

This trio has been playing together for over 25 years. Style and repertoire have barely changed, but this music is timeless and every performance fresh With Jarrett’s trio the key things are the intensity of the moments of creating and listening, and the 3 held a packed auditorium, ranging from early teens to elderly enraptured. Jarrett has the gift of being able to go directly to the heart of a piece with an incisiveness which allows him to extract its essence, which he is then able to communicate to the listener. Often this involves playing the melody in a deceptively simple way, bringing out harmonic and melodic qualities you had never noticed before. At his 2011concert at the Festival Hall I remember being moved to tears by his rendition of “Answer me my Love", a song I knew only from a syrupy Matt Munro version.

On the opening night of the current tour in Vienna. Jarrett was on superb form. He opened with a version of "Stella by Starlight" which didn't state the melody until the last chorus. He seemed inn a skittish mood, with "Just. Squeeze Me" and a jokey ending to " The Devil & The Deep Blue Sea", but the emotional intensity was there in the ballads "Once upon a Time" and "Blame it on my Youth". The virtuosity wasfs there too when "Autumn Leaves" segued into his own "Up for it", a piece where he plays different rhythmic pulses with each hand, and somehow a melody as well without losing rhythmic coherence. It was breathtaking in its timing, as were some of his extended arpeggios alternating with short staccato phrases in the funky slow blues numbers he excels at.

But if Jarrett was superb, Gary Peacock was outstanding. He drove the rhythms with unerring power and precision when the music called for it, counterpointed as if in telepathic contact with the pianist sometimes following, sometimes leading. His solos were lyrical and melodic and the audience loved him. Jack DeJohnette was as subtle and varied as ever he showed a total command of his kit without any apparent effort. You could hear his evocation of the great drummers of the past - Sid Catlett in particular. His fills in the encore favourite “God Bless the Child” were a joy. But the virtuosity was never showmanship – none of them ever gave the impression that they were there for anything but making music collaboratively and what they played was as good as it gets. Roll on July 2013 at the Festival Hall.

The concert was recorded by Austrian Radio ORF1.

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