Hard to believe that it's been over twenty years since Jarrett released his landmark Koln Concert album. Over the course of the next two decades he released an enormous (some would say self-indulgent) amount of material in both solo and group settings. Yet, as Tokyo '96 demonstrates, Keith Jarrett remains a vital force and his "standards" trio must be regarded as one of the greatest in jazz history. Tokyo '96 features Jarrett, along with legendary sidemen Gary Peacock (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums), putting a fresh face on ten jazz standards and a pair of his original compositions. The repertoire is filled with reflective ballads (It Could Happen To You) and bopish delights (Billie's Bounce). Jarrett's solo work is never less than enthralling (thankfully he has toned down his guttural vocal intrusions) and the interplay between the players is most impressive. Wonderful stuff! (****)
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.