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Keith Jarrett: Whisper Not

AAJ Staff By

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As one of the most inspiring and mercurial piano players of late twentieth-century jazz, Keith Jarrett, somewhat akin to Charles Lloyd in whose group Jarrett first enjoyed vast popularity, goes through phases. Perhaps it's growth. Perhaps it's retreat and regrouping. Perhaps it's the fertility of a boundless imagination.

Of course, the strangest of Jarrett's life events was his widely publicized struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome, which caused him to withdraw from public life—and also, unfortunately, from performing and recording. Slowly working his way back into a performing capacity on The Melody At Night, With You by stressing the purity of melody contained with the standards, Jarrett has rebounded to extended performances once again, as documented on Whisper Not.

The two-CD package, recorded before a wildly enthusiastic audience at the Palais des Congrés in Paris, Whisper Not returns a legendary piano trio to its acknowledged stature with—not surprisingly—energetic interpretations of the tunes that would be very familiar to devotees of the trio from the early 1980's until Jarrett's retreat. Even more fortunate is the fact that The Keith Jarrett Trio has launched a fall tour that brings the musicians to the people.

Interestingly, while some of the more popular masters of jazz piano explored expansions of the instrument's sound in their youth, in their maturity they are investigating the basics of their music—basics that first inspired them to enter jazz careers. Chick Corea interprets Bud Powell. Herbie Hancock studies Gershwin's music and influences. Oscar Peterson delves into his Canadian culture with the orchestral assistance of Michel Legrand. Keith Jarrett continues to be fascinated by the standards.

On Whisper Not , the trio offers a fairly standard treatment of the first chorus to Shearing's "Conception" before entering into successive improvisations. On the other hand, "Groovin' High" begins with an intriguing vamp as Jarrett leads into a contrapuntal approach to the tune. The melody of his right hand plays in opposition to a single-noted plunking to create simultaneous percussion and suggestion of the changes before Peacock and DeJohnette come in.

The audience greets "Round Midnight" with spontaneous, appreciative applause when the melody becomes perceptible, the dark colors remaining even as drums and bass enliven the rhythm. For straight-ahead infectiousness, Jarrett tears into "What Is This Thing Called Love" or "Sandu."

Whisper Not offers not just relief to those concerned about Jarrett's the diminution of musical accessibility and productivity. It also offers another outstanding addition to his discography that sounds as if the trio never skipped a beat in the last three years.

Title: Whisper Not | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: RCA


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