Pianist Keith Jarrett's best work is with his Standards Trio, with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnettethough it probably wouldn't be hard to get an argument favoring his solo concert discs. And his best Standards Trio disc may be My Foolish Heart
, though an argument for any of the trio efforts released in the new millennium could easily be made. Since those sets are all extraordinary, the judgment comes down to the individual listener's personal song favorites. Up For It
(ECM, 2003), is the one that's always rung my bell, with its inclusion of "My Funny Valentine," "Someday My Prince Will Come," "Autumn Leaves," "Scrapple From the Apple" and "If I Were A Bell."
What lifts My Foolish Heart
above the rest is, again, wonderful songs, combined with a very upbeat vibe and a sense that the trio went out that night in Montreux with something to prove, after nearly twenty years (in 2001, at the time of the recording) performing together.
Jarrett seems as intense an artist as alto saxophonist Art Pepper wasa perfectionist going out every night to make deathless art; and God help anyonein Jarrett's casewho flashes a monkey wrench at the machinery of achieving that goal. Jarrett is, pre-concert, a cranky, strung tight curmudgeon. In his liner notes for both My Foolish Heart
and Up For It
he complains about the concert situations (heat, lighting, sound problems on the former; stormy weather, unheated rooms with no bathrooms for the latter); and both times he and the trio went out and laid down transcendent performances, charged up by the adversity, we can suppose, and the desire to, as described in My Foolish Heart
's liner notes, "...grab the audience by the throat and shake them into hearing what we were doing."
They heard. They heard the Trio at it's most vibrant, grabbing them by the collective throat with the ebullient Miles Davis-penned opener, "Four," an urgent take on the Sonny Rollins jewel, "Oleo," and Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser." But throat-grabbing isn't he Trio's only trick. They also charm and seduce on a gorgeous and slightly warped take on the title tuneso different from Bill Evan's version on Waltz for Debby
(Riverside Records, 1961); less reverent but no less lovely. And then there's the time-tested American Songbook classics "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry." and "What's New."
The surprise of the package is the inclusion of a couple of Fats Waller tunes, "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Honeysuckle Rose," along with Rodgers/Hart classic, "You Took Advantage of Me," in the style, showcasing a rare stride side of the Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette team, with DeJohnette delivering a brief, bustling, Krupa-esque roll-and-tumble drum solo on "Honeysuckle."
Two discs, an hour and forty-eight minutes of music, the Standards Trio in a particularly inspired mood. Yep, it's their best.