Pianist Paul Bley was touring Scandinavia with a quartet made up of longtime associate Gary Peacock on bass and two brilliant British musicians, drummer Tony Oxley and John Surman on baritone saxophone and bass clarinet, when they made this Oslo recording in 1991. Rather than a conventionally organized quartet session, the CD consists of seven largely improvised solos, three duets, and two tracks–the collectively improvised "Interface" and Surman's "Article Four"–with the full quartet. Even more unusual is the frequent emphasis on bass frequencies and slow, even solemn, tempos. Only extraordinary musicians could keep such a format interesting, and these four do, exploring room resonance with almost ceremonial levels of concentration.
Gary Peacock shares front-cover billing with Paul Bley on this 1970 session, but drummer Paul Motian is also present on the first five tracks. (Billy Elgart replaces Motian on the remaining three.) There's a curiously straight-ahead, tempo-driven feel to this short and sweet disc, quite unlike the free aesthetic that Bley, Peacock, and Motian put forward when they returned to ECM as a trio on 1999's Not Two, Not One.
This trio date is dedicated to the music of Annette Peacock, former wife of both pianist Paul Bley and bassist Gary Peacock. While Bley is the undisputed leader on this date (as he has recorded many of these pieces before), it is flügelhorn and trumpet player Franz Koglmann who arranged them in such an exquisite manner. The majority of the pieces included here were originally composed as songs. They were vehicles for expressing the interior, haunted world that Ms. Peacock inhabits and featured her lilting, edgy voice, which slips and slithers through her deceptively simple melodies before erupting into a shriek of ecstasy or pain.
Recorded in Tokyo's Orchard Hall before Japanese royalty and a packed house – and released two years later while Keith Jarrett was out of action suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome – the standards trio lives up to its formidable track record of consistency and then some. Jarrett and perennial cohorts Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette are, if anything, even sharper, swinging harder and more attuned to each other than ever.
Recorded in Munich, ECM's hometown, in 2001, "The Out-of-Towners " finds jazz's most consistently creative piano trio at the peak of its game. Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette captivate the audience at the Munich State Opera. Balancing standards and jazz tunes with Keith Jarrett originals, the trio keeps the music in tight focus.
One of only a handful of Keith Jarrett "Standards" Trio records without a standard within earshot, this is a triumph, for Jarrett has successfully brought the organically evolving patterns of his solo concerts into the group format. Each of the first three selections is built upon a constant revolving ostinato, and each evolves from one stage to the next like a Jarrett solo piano improvisation.
The two reunite for Insight, with Peacock's name first on the marquee, though it's likely nothing more than the egalitarian nature of this duo that his name is first, since Copland's was the lead on What It Says. It's another set of deeply connected music—a mix of Copland and Peacock originals, free improvisations and well-known but instinctively personal covers.