At this point, after more than twenty years of recording and performing as a working trio, what else can be said about the music of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette? All three were master musicians when they first got together, and the longevity and constancy of their association, unprecedented in jazz, has only deepened their individual talents and the empathy of their collective interaction.
Known colloquially as the "Standards Trio" due to their repertoire, the group prefers to avoid the nether regions which the individual members have all repeatedly visited in other settings, consistently producing thoughtful but sometimes startlingly original takes on classic jazz tunes with the odd original thrown in. So the release of The Out-of-Towners , a 2001 concert recorded at the State Opera of Munich, is almost certain to elicit a positive response, but perhaps not without a certain twinge of blasé familiarity. "Ho-hum," a niggling voice at the back of the mind yawns, "yet another display of the Jarrett trio's boundless eloquence."
Familiarity-bred contempt aside, "The Out-of-Towners" does document a corking good gig. Jarrett's intro to "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me" manages to be lovely and intriguing at the same time, and the group enters so smoothly that they seem to be extensions of the pianist's own fingers. "You've Changed" demonstrates how this group can take a standard and, without deconstructing it or losing the line of the original melody, open it up in a way that allows it to swell with new invention.
The title track, an obligatory Jarrett original, is a lengthy highlight here: a funky blues with gospel touches, it features some wonderful soloing by Peacock and is as deep-down as can be. Gerry Mulligan's "Five Brothers" swings as brightly as it should, with some effectively simple playing by Jarrett. An engaging run through Cole Porter's "I Love You" is let down only by a lengthy cymbals-only solo by DeJohnette that is strangely static and spoils the flow.
For anyone living under the proverbial rock who is unfamiliar with this trio, The Out-of-Towners makes as good an introduction as any of the group's recent work. How excited others will get about this release probably depends on their level of devotion to the trio, and on how many examples of their undeniable expertise already sit on the shelf.
Personnel: Keith Jarrett, piano; Gary Peacock, double-bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums