It’s been a long time since the first volumes of standard interpretations by Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette hit the streets, announcing a new direction for the multifaceted Jarrett. It was 1983 to be exact and since then a distinguished series of ECM sides has built on the solid reputation so clearly established right at the start. While arguably the magnum opus of the lot would have to be Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note: The Complete Recordings
, a close second can easily be claimed with the new release of a July 1999 concert recording in Paris packaged on two discs as Whisper Not
One would never guess that rumors of Jarrett’s retirement from public performance due to his bout with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome were circulating at about the same time that these sides were recorded. This is Jarrett on a mission and hell bent on proving that he’s lost none of his authority and creative integrity. There’s a pervasive up-tempo mood throughout both discs that is quite unlike anything ever presented before by this trio. Be-bop is the taste of the day with such classics such as “Bouncin’ With Bud,” “Hallucinations,” “Conception,” and “Sandu” part of a distinguished program. The lengthiest performance of the set, “What Is This Thing Called Love” highlights the brilliant chemistry and interaction that has always made this trio an archetype of originality. By the tune’s conclusion, Jarrett’s left hand is firing off a low register vamp under DeJohnette’s lavish fills.
Ballads are also a Jarrett specialty and you’ll find sustenance therein with takes on “Chelsea Bridge,” “’Round Midnight,” “Prelude to a Kiss,” and “When I Fall in Love.” Especially agreeable is an update on “Poinciana,” complete with DeJohnette’s authentic rumba beat throughout. Consistently exceptional, Whisper Not is prime Jarrett and brilliant enough to be considered some of the best new music of the year.