Monday, December 22, 2008

Music notes--Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note

I think the moment I realized I was into serious jazz was when I was in my car listening to a tape I’d found in a bargain bin from The Keith Jarrett Trio and heard their 26 plus minute version of “Autumn Leaves.” Every note of that song sounded right, and I think I knew then that this music separated the faux jazz from the real thing. While some could play for three minutes and still have a song that should be two and half minutes shorter, the good stuff was worth each moment spent listening.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the box set that this tune came from: Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note: The Complete Recordings. These sessions with Jarrett’s “Standards” trio were recorded in 1994 and are an amazing achievement. Jarrett is, of course, in fine form, but his band mates, Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, play tasty licks that made me, as a newbie to jazz, pay better attention to the music I listened to afterwards.

Most box sets are too expensive for me, particularly when I realize that with many, I listen a few times and then they sit for years at a time. Sometimes I pass a box set by because I may already have most of the songs on other album, and can get the extra tracks digitally. But this is a project that holds up no matter how often I listen. It sounds as fresh as exciting as the first time I heard that sweet intro to “Autumn Leaves.”

As well as Jarrett’s trademark solos (and yes, a bit of the excited utterances), one finds some of the most enjoyable and interesting interpretations of jazz classics like “Days of Wine and Roses,” “How Long Has This Been Going On,” “On Green Dolphin Street,” “Straight, No Chaser,” and “I Fall in Love Too Easily.” There are also some fine Jarrett originals, such as “No Lonely Nights” and the irrepressible “Bop-Be.” This project is testament of all that is good about jazz and all that is good in music.

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