If, after thirty five years and dozens of standard bearing recordings you're not spoiled rotten, or decisively worse, indifferent to the mythic elegance and boundless creativity of the Standards Trio, then welcome gratefully the latest two-disc chronicle, After The Fall. Recorded on November 14, 1998 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, this was Keith Jarrett's first live performance after his near career-ending bout with chronic fatigue syndrome. Recorded on a DAT (like the monumental pre-CFS box set Multitude of Angels released in 2016 on ECM Records) we witness once again the resilience and respect for both the players (Jarrett, ever buoyant bassist Gary Peacock and tireless drummer Jack DeJohnette and the ageless music they re-interpret, construct, and renew.
Starting with a breezy, be-boppy "The Masquerade Is Over," the trio moves into the easy swing of Bird's signature "Scrapple From The Apple." The audience then generously acknowledges each cohort's turn on the plaintive , mid-tempo "Old Folks." It's no big secret that these guys have covered Johnny Mercer's "Autumn Leaves" more times than any of us can count, and here they are still discovering, and translating, all the tension and freedom the tune has to offer. Peacock is especially forward here, holding the center while Jarrett and Jack accentuate and nuance. As focused as Jarrett is, DeJohnette is just a marvel of movement.
Disc Two opens with a jaunty "Bouncin' With Bud," yet another standard the trio makes its own time after time after time. You can hear the joy they're experiencing playing together, and like any great performance you are swept up in the triumph. And triumph is what we're talking about here. Be it the swaying "Doxy;" the Bill Evans-like tenderness of Noel Coward's "I'll See You Again;" the brooding reflectiveness of Paul Desmond's "Late Lament;" the grin-inducing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town;" or the expansive nod and unparalleled glee of John Coltrane's instantly recognizable "Moment's Notice," the trio, after a long two years of questioning and recollection, find themselves back where they started, onstage, without peer.
CD 1: The Masquerade Is Over; Scrapple From the Apple; Old Folks; Autumn Leaves; Bouncin' with Bud.
CD 2: Doxy; I'll See You Again; Late Lament; One for Majid; Santa Claus Is Coming to Town; Moment's Notice; When I Fall in Love.
Keith Jarrett: piano; Gary Peacock: double bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.
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