Despite suggestions by some that, now nearing the quarter century mark, it's time for pianist Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio to hang up its hat for good, My Foolish Heart
demonstrates that there's still plenty of life left in this group. Recorded at the 2001 Montreux Jazz Festival less than a week before the Munich performance documented in part on The Out-of-Towners
(ECM, 2004), this complete performance spread across two discs doesn't include a completely free improvisation like The Out-of-Towners
' title track, but there's no shortage of inspired playingand a middle section that comes as a surprise but, retrospectively, is completely inevitable.
The trio takes no time getting down to business, opening with Miles Davis' classic "Four," taken at an ambling mid-tempo swing but nevertheless brimming with energy. This was clearly a stellar night, with Jarrett turning in such a singable solo that it puts his controversial vocalizing into clear perspective. Many artists sing as they play (though not many as loudly as Jarrett) as a means to channel what they hear into what they play, and that's undeniably the case here. Bassist Gary Peacock's solo may be shortas most of them arebut it's no less melodic or referential/reverential to the tune. Jarrett's solos are often extended but there's never any fat to be trimmed; Peacock comes from the opposite directionto paraphrase minimalist composer Steve Reich, saying little but doing much.
Sonny Rollins' "Oleo" is taken at a fast clip, drummer Jack DeJohnette's dark ride cymbal carrying the pulse as the trio asserts that there's plenty of freedom available within form. DeJohnette's been on fire lately, most notably on the late Michael Brecker's final recording, Pilgrimage (Heads Up, 2007), but burns just as brightly here, during the trade-off section near the tune's end.
"My Funny Valentine," from Still Live (ECM, 1988), has long been one of the trio's definitive ballad performances, but here the title track may actually supplant it. Jarrett's spare yet rich intro leads into a hauntingly lyrical solo that's one of his most profound on record. Peacock and DeJohnette gradually evolve into a gentle swing where Peacock's warm yet clearly defined tone interacts with Jarrett on such a subliminal level that it's the best endorsement possible for the concept of longevity in a group.
But it's the twenty minutes of music at the center of this 110-minute performance that makes My Foolish Heart distinctive amongst the group's substantial discography. While it should come as no surprise that Jarrett has studied stride and ragtime, this is the first time he's referenced them so directly. Presented back-to-back, Fats Wallers' "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose," alongside Rodgers and Hart's "You Took Advantage of Me," demonstrates the trio's exhaustive and encyclopedic roots.
With its broad stylistic reach, the only thing preventing My Foolish Heart from being the Standard Trio's definitive release is the inclusion of a completely free improvisation. Without it, the energy, tenderness and musical depth still ranks it alongside Still Live as one of the trio's finest recordings.
Personnel: Keith Jarrett: piano; Gary Peacock: double-bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.