Keith Jarrett/Gary Peacock/Jack DeJohnette
It’s hard to believe it, but in January, this trio will be 25 years old. To mark the occasion, ECM has issued a box set of the supergroup’s inaugural session – a remarkable two days that produced three albums of superlative music. The albums make a strong case for the Standards Trio being not only one of the longest lived, but also, at their best, one of the greatest piano trios ever.
Standards Volume 2 is an album people will be listening to 50 years from now. On “In Love In Vain,” the trio’s every note sounds purposeful and every phrase retains a clear connection to the one before it. Even when there seems to be three independent parts happening on “So Tender,” the communication is intimate to the point of clairvoyance. On everything they play, there’s an emphasis on sensual beauty that lures the listener into their musical conversation.
Although Jarrett convened the band, there’s almost no question of leadership once the music starts. These are masters working together and playing at an absolute creative peak of their powers. Standards Volume 1 is only marginally less astonishing and is somewhat marred by a funky gospel version of “God Bless the Child” that grooves on too long. “Changes” (nice double meaning) veers off on a tangent from the Great American Songbook into three Jarrett originals. But the trio has established its sound and conception by then, so when they turn to the new material, it’s transformed by their explorations of the older. The band’s strong, clear melodic improvisation, selfless group interaction, and ensemble balance are timeless virtues that work in any setting, old or new.
- Ed Hazell