It would be hard to find three musicians more dedicated to keeping their music fresh and inventive than these, so it's startling to realise that they have now been playing together, off and on, for the past 30 years. They are informally known as Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio, because the vast bulk of their material consists of classic American songs, which they find endlessly stimulating. This set, recorded live in Lucerne in 2009, shows no sign of flagging inspiration.
It is almost superfluous to write about Keith Jarrett's three-decades-and-running standards trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. Given their recorded output, it's easy to discern why they are regarded by many as the greatest living piano trio. They have continued to imbue the standards book with new dimensions of meaning, creating a near symbiotic dialogue in harmonic and rhythmic invention while remaining emotionally resonant.
This release by Keith Jarrett's celebrated Standards Trio in the group's 30th year was recorded live four years ago – so it's safe to say that the fastidious leader must now be happy with this set of improvisations on classics, including the West Side Story title track, Miles Davis's Solar, and two originals. The trio has demonstrated the ambiguities in its name by exploring standards as well as free improv over the years, but song-forms are dominant here – often developed with almost venomous relish by Jarrett and imaginative (if occasionally loosely pitched) regular rejoinders from bassist Gary Peacock, underpinned by drummer Jack DeJohnette's mix of stinging power and subtle support. Deep Space makes a seductively glimmering overture, before Solar comes in almost sleepwalkingly off the pulse – the trio constantly suggesting swing but subverting it, before Jarrett hurtles off into a blistering groove.
When it comes to Keith Jarrett’s recordings, I’ve always had a preference for his impromptu piano solos, the ones often named after the city in which he happened to be performing. It’s not that I have anything against Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette playing standards that are 50 years old or more. It’s just that those releases like La Scala, Solo Concerts: Bremen/Lausanne, The Köln Concert and Radiance are a full embodiment of what is new.