If total improvisation is a factor, then the combined trio of Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Gary Peacock, are a musical force to be reckoned with. Always Let Me Go: Live in Tokyo
was recorded in 2001 and is an aural snapshot of freedom and spontaneity. Jarrett, a piano prodigy, made his mark in the world of jazz as a unique soloist, has recorded in extensive formats from experimental to solo concerts. He has been hailed and blasted for his expressiveness with a penchant for operating outside the normal jazz stereotypes. Damning the torpedoes, he is still as vibrant and unpredictable as ever. His fellow cohorts, Gary Peacock on bass, and Jack DeJohnette on drums, are both esteemed musicians in their own rights, having played with luminaries from John Coltrane to Tony Williams. The trio has performed together frequently for the past twenty years on notable recordings such as At the Blue Note
and Whisper Not.
The opening selection “Hearts in Space” unfolds like a living organism, with the twists and turns of emerging life. The musicians follow each other in a cyclic manner that is random yet controlled. Each musician anticipates one another’s next movement, which creates ever-interesting dialogues. The trio improvises freely by interchanging various modes of structured and free styles. One moment swinging, the next sparring, or urging each other, they weave in and out with style and assurance. Jarrett’s piano is playful and searching, with quick shifts in tempo. He quietly offers a beautiful solo piece simply entitled “The River” which flows peacefully as the title’s implication. He also adds other elements to the performance with his uncanny vocalizations ranging from scats, chants, to primal grunts, which are totally unpretentious. Peacock’s bass holds the trio in check with strong lines and memorable solos on selections such as “Waves” and “Tsunami ”. His voice is rich and robust. Drummer DeJohnette continues to pave the way with a variety of sounds from his kit, via an array of percussive wizardry. He sings a percussion melody on the opening of “Facing East ” and delivers a blistering solo on the final selection “Relay”. There are individual highlights galore, but it is the oneness of the trio that makes the performance so special.
The realization that Always Let Me Go is totally improvised is a testament to the skill, stamina, and pure creativity of the trio. Take any one of these elements away and this would be disastrous for the listener. But instead, one can enjoy and appreciate the passion and dedication these artists, so enthusiastically deliver. Another amazing fact is that this was Jarrett’s 149th recording in Japan. The next will be his 150th – a concert that will take place in Tokyo's Metropolitan Music Hall on October 30th.
1. Waves 2. Facing East
3. Tsunami 4. Relay