Keith Jarrett Trio at Carnegie Hall (plus: Jazz Festival!)

Keith Jarrett’s “Standards Trio” played Carnegie Hall Thursday night, to predictable glories.

The concert—which lasted over two-and-a-half hours, including an intermission and three encores—started with “It Could Happen to You” and ended with “I Thought About You,” bracketing, among others, an ethereal “My Funny Valentine,” maybe the most heartbraking take on “All the Sad Young Men” since Anita O’Day's, and a startlingly funky “God Bless the Child” with K-Jay laying down a fierce backbeat while still carving serpentine solos of vast sophistication.

This time, he didn’t yell at the audience (or say anything for that matter), except once, and justifiably, toward the very end, when someone in the balcony snapped a photo, despite the MC’s repeated implorings not to. Then someone else took a shot as the trio began to play, and it’s a testament to Jarrett’s relatively good mood perhaps that he didn’t walk out then and there. (Suggestion: Maybe he should let everyone take pictures for two minutes when he and his bandmates—Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette—walk onto the stage, and maybe a minute more while they pose at their instruments; and then that’s really, strictly, it.)

One other suggestion: Carnegie Hall, one of the great concert spaces for acoustic instruments, should hire some engineers who know what they’re doing when microphones and speakers come into play. In the first half, the piano sounded muffled, the bass indistinct, and the drums way too splashy. The mix was adjusted during intermission; the second half sounded just fine, as well-balanced as I’ve ever heard a miked concert at Carnegie.

This was the opening night of George Wein’s CareFusion Jazz Festival, which continues next week at various halls and clubs around the city, featuring such stalwarts as Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, and Sheila Jordan; next-generation masters like Jason Moran, Chris Potter, and Jason Lindner; and up-and-comers Anat Cohen, Esperanza Spaulding, Mostly Other People Do the Killing, and Darcy James Argue’s 18-piece “steampunk” big band, the Secret Society. The full schedule is here.

John Atkinson's picture

60 years after "The Birth of the Cool" concert, I am still not convinced that somewhere like Carbegie Hall is an appropriate venue for small-group jazz. It is too reminiscent of the museum.

Nick's picture

Great musician, but his attitude towards his audience perplexes me. Oscar Peterson never behaved in this fashion. Agree, Carnegie is too large for small ensembles.

Margaret's picture

Hi. I attended this concert but it did not compare with KJ's improv concert from end of January 2009. The latter was recorded and I noted that in your blog from that time that you thought ECM would release the recording fairly soon. However, the latest advertised recording is Jasmine and I haven't seen anything or heard anything about a release of the Carnegie Hall Jan. 2009 music. Does this mean the recording was unsuccessful? or it takes longer than we thought? or or there anything you can tell me? Thank you from Sleepy Hollow, New York...Margaret

Chris's picture

IMHO, small ensemble jazz belongs in venues where the musicians are less than ten steps away, where there's a bar nearby and the smell of whisky isn't too faint, and where microphones are only used to introduce the group.

Fred Kaplan's picture

Margaret, I'm told there were technical problems in the recording of that Jan '09 concert, so there will be no CD. (And I think you're right: that was a far more jaw-gaping concert than this week's trio gig.) However, you should check out Jarrett's 3-CD solo set, "Testament: London / Paris," which I reviewed here last year. It's on the same level as the Carnegie solo concert - and brilliantly recorded.