Keith Jarrett's Awesome Night at Carnegie

If Keith Jarrett weren’t such a magnificent pianist, it would be intolerable to watch him in concert. His screechy humming and moaning, his lizard leering and preening—in three decades of seeing him play, I’ve never managed, despite some effort, to find the charm in his theatrics. And yet, he usually has me from his first chord—so warm, rich, and intriguingly edgy—especially the past few years, as he’s tightened his rhapsodic tendencies while enriching his lyrical core.

And so it went at his Standards Trio concert tonight at Carnegie Hall—which lasted more than two hours, including three faux-reluctant encores, and which, except for a tedious Latinization of an old Sinatra tune just before intermission, was, as usual, sublime.

His trio-mates are Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Jarrett was in such uncharacteristically good spirit that he stepped to the mike and thanked them for “putting up with me” over their 24 years as a group. (He returned to form, right before the last encore, when he screamed at the “really stupid” people who snapped photographs, even though there were only a few and they did so between, not during, songs. Oh, well, it was an improvement over the trio’s last Carnegie date, three years ago, when Jarrett declared New York to be a city of illiterates because the Times’ review of his latest record—a rave, by the way—was only 200 words.)

Still, no jazz pianist alive coaxes such hard emotion from a simple melody or such suspense from a slight rubato. And few trios since Bill Evans’ interact with such teeming clairvoyance.

Larry Harvey's picture

I'm pleased to see that you are doing this blog. I will be a regular reader. I saw his JVC shows in 2001 and 2002 and I am always interested to hear about his trio dates

Tony's picture

Check out the story on Jarrett in the latest issue of DownBeat! I am eagerly looking forward to the Trio's new live release on ECM as well as the label's reissue of the Trio's first three recordings all in one special package! It's going to be a great Fall season for Jazz.....