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Earshot Jazz Festival Reaches Its Peak with Keith Jarrett

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I had never seen Keith Jarrett perform live before. I had only heard his wonderful recordings and heard some interesting stories about the demands he has on his audience.

The trio, made up of Keith Jarrett on piano, Gary Peacock on bass and NEA Jazz Master Jack DeJohnette on drums, is considered by many to be the premier jazz trio on the planet, and was the headlining performance at this years Earshot Jazz Festival.

Prior to the show Tuesday at Benaroya Hall, we received our warnings as audience members. No audio recording. No video recording. Turn your cell phones completely off. No pictures of any kind, at all, including while the group is taking a bow (we received these instructions again after intermission).

Even if you haven't heard the rumors of Jarrett stopping in the middle of a song because someone coughed, it was quite clear now: stay quiet.

A dozen notes into the first song, a baby started to cry. Jarrett stops, and starts over.

A cell phone rang out loud right behind me in the middle of song number four. The owner of the phone seemed far less terrified of the consequences than I did, as he pulled out his phone and asked “Now who could that be?"

“Some people ask me why I don't bring my cell phone up on stage with me. It's because I don't want to interrupt you."—Keith Jarrett addressing the crowd after intermission.

All of the speed bumps aside, the concert was excellent, and appreciated greatly by the sold out crowd. The trio has performed together for a long time, and one thing that stood out to me was the complete understanding they seemed to have of each other on stage. No eye contact, no gestures. Just their ears and ability to anticipate one another founded on a long standing work relationship and virtuosic talents.

The trio covered the spectrum of standards, highlighted with beautiful ballads like “I've Got a Crush on You" and “Body and Soul." They showed off an ability to get a bit funky with their version of “Fever," and swung hard on Clifford Brown's “Joy Spring."

The highlight for me was their version of “The Meaning of the Blues," which really allowed each individual on stage to shine, not necessarily with solos, but almost as a demonstration of each performers individual talents fused together to make a seamless trio.

The group treated the crowd to multiple encore performances, including a beautiful version of “When I Fall in Love."

While certainly interesting, the concert was no doubt a treat and an rare opportunity for those who had a chance to see it.

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This story appears courtesy of Groove Notes.
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