Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Keith Jarrett: Somewhere

ECM Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Somewhere

You can’t be a jazz fan and not be familiar with pianist Keith Jarrett; he’s one of the world’s best known and most recorded artists. He’s also one of the most prolific, although his concerts and recordings have slowed during the past decade; this album is only his tenth in recent years. That’s quite a change, considering he produced more than 70 (!) during the preceding three decades. 

I also must note that he has done a dozen or so classical albums to date. 

Jarrett was born in 1945 and began playing piano at age 3; he was giving concerts at the tender age of 7. After graduating from high school, he attended Boston’s Berklee School of Music for a year, then moved to New York City and began playing at the famous Village Vanguard. That’s where Art Blakey heard and hired him, to play with the Jazz Messengers. During that period, drummer Jack DeJohnette — then playing with the Charles Lloyd Quartet — talked Jarrett into joining that group. Miles Davis was next, and then Jarrett began to record with his own groups. 

Somewhere was recorded during a 2009 concert by Jarrett’s trio — DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock — that took place at the KKL Luzern Concert Hall, but hasn’t been released until now. For the most part, the album features Great American Songbook classics, although the opening tracks are Miles Davis’ “Solar” and Jarrett’s “Deep Space.” The trio then deconstructs gems such as “Stars Fell on Alabama,” “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and “I Thought About You.” They combine Bernstein’s “Somewhere” with Sondheim’s “Everywhere,” then proceed to Bernstein’s “Tonight,” the latter unexpectedly played up-tempo. The stylish closer: Johnny Mercer’s “I Thought About You.” 

The result is one of Jarrett’s best albums. Peacock has been with him for years, and his work on this release is superior to anything I’ve heard previously; he’s as good as any bassist playing today. DeJohnette is a truly great drummer; I remember praise given by another percussionist, who said that “the best drummers are those who are ‘felt’ more than heard,” and that perfectly describes DeJohnette. 

Jarrett’s fans are certain to love this.

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