Keith Jarrett Trio, Royal Festival Hall, Wednesday 27th July

This trio have released so much of their music on CD (17 albums worth apparently) often live recordings, that you can take them for granted. Of course the performance is flawless; of course the interplay and communication seem telepathic (this is a long and successful marriage). In fact barely a word was spoken, so naming of tunes was down to our own radars. We did about as well as all the newspaper reviewers ( In Your Own Sweet Way, Basin Street Blues, Slow-ish pop tune sounding number, Sandu, ballad I didn’t know but apparently ‘What now my love. Second set, Bop-be, Yesterdays, When Will the Blues Leave; four encores – God Bless the Child, ballad, blues, When I fall in Love). I don’t see many gigs where the player’s sound is so familiar. Like many lovers of the piano in jazz, this trio has been a constant soundtrack to life (for pushing twenty years for me).  On this evening a couple of things stood out to my ears. The first was how increasingly classical Jarrett’s touch sounds sometimes; there were exquisitely rendered intros and lullaby like ballads where the simplest of single note lines were singing and hanging in the air. Then, in contrast, the blues was never far way, always a strong part of his playing but particularly present this evening whether on a blues form or lace through the improvisation on the standards.  The first set was unquestionably low – key, almost introspective (my other pair of ears experienced it as a bit flat). The energy ramped up in the second set by the time they were playing Ornette Coleman’s When will the Blues Leave they really seemed to be cutting loose. Jarrett’s rocky take on God Bless the Child makes it hard not to grin and dance along.  The man seemed in form to me. The characteristic blizzards of notes fused together into long melodic lines that were utterly compelling. Like the best gigs, I’m still recalling some of those moments now a couple of days later. To paraphrase Jack de Johnette’s words as he appealed for no photos, I took the music home with me.  Having read a few of the other reviews now Guardian, London Jazz, Evening Standard, I see there are plenty of different or opposite responses, so for the record, another of my impressions was how good I thought the sound was.



  1. The ballads in the first set were “Something Good” from “The Sound of Music”

    and “Answer Me My Love” (Not “What Now My Love”)
    The encores included the ballad “Once Upon a Time”

    • Thanks George, sharper ears than mine. I thought the ballad playing was particularly beautiful.

  2. just to confirm , the ballad was Answer Me My Love. But there’s a reason why these guys don’t talk so much between tunes, the names – and even the repertoire itself – are always secondary to the MOMENT itself. I know GP, JD and KJ have all studied Zen Buddhism; to them it’s not so much about what tune they play as it is about where they go with it.

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