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Keith Jarrett: Whisper Not

David Adler By

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Recorded live in 1999 at the Palais des Congrès in Paris, Keith Jarrett’s standards trio has rarely sounded more focused and brilliant. For one thing, a premium is put on brevity. There are none of the aimless 20-minute codas that one hears on some previous albums. Only "What Is This Thing Called Love," which opens disc two, exceeds the 10-minute mark. Otherwise, the tunes are played in the same kind of straight-to-the-point manner that Jarrett employed on his previous outing, The Melody At Night, With You.

But quite unlike that supremely understated solo recital, these two discs feature plenty of spellbinding virtuosity. Jarrett taps into bebop streams of consciousness on "Bouncing With Bud," "Hallucinations," "Conception," and a very fast "Groovin’ High." He introduces "Whisper Not," the ultimate mid-tempo hard bop theme, with the elegance of a classical impromptu. And on the ballads he’s simply stunning. While "Chelsea Bridge," "’Round Midnight," "Prelude to a Kiss," and "When I Fall In Love" are wonderful, the highlight is the less well-known "All My Tomorrows." Gary Peacock takes the first solo, and then Jarrett takes flight — briefly, with sublime restraint — before bringing the tune to a wondrously hushed conclusion.

Jack DeJohnette is wily, trading fours on the bop tunes with quick-reflexed invention. Often he’ll locate just the right textural detail and execute it perfectly, such as punctuating the end of a rhythmic phrase with a firm knock on the splash cymbal. Peacock sounds terrific in both solo and support roles, and his bass sound is captured nicely on this unblemished recording.

Jarrett, emerging from a three-year battle with chronic fatigue syndrome, seems to have triumphed. He once said that the disease would be better described as "forever dead" syndrome. But now, Jarrett once again sounds forever alive.

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

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