It would be easy to dismiss Somewhere (CD, digital) as just another live album by the jazz trio of pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Gary Peacock, and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Because, quite frankly, that’s what it is. But that kind of misses the point. Instead, Somewhere is really yet another great live album by the best jazz trio around, and arguably the strongest album this threesome has produced.
Photo © Daniela Yohannes / ECM Records
Recorded July 11, 2009, at the KKL Luzern Concert Hall in Lucerne, Switzerland, Somewhere has Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette playing such standards as Miles Davis’ “Solar,” “Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea” by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, and both “Tonight” and the title track by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim.
And if you were to change the facts of the previous sentence, you could use it to describe many of the twenty-one albums these guys have recorded since 1977, when they first worked together on Gary Peacock’s Tales Of Another.
To whit: Recorded July 16, 2002, at the Festival De Jazz D’Antibes in Juan-les-Pins, France, Up For It has the guys playing such standards as Frank Loesser’s “If I Were A Bell,” Rodgers & Hart’s “My Funny Valentine,” and “Someday My Prince Will Come” by Larry Morey and Frank Churchill. And the rest would replace the second half with “…playing such Jarrett-penned tunes as….”
The thing is, these guys don’t just play the standards, they replay them, rework them, reinterpret them in their own style, a mix of classic piano-led jazz with tons of improvisation that employs hints of free jazz, much like John Coltrane did when, in 1965, he and his classic quartet recorded the songs that were eventually released on the albums Transition and Sun Ship.
As a result, you might recognize the beginning of “Tonight” from how it sounded in West Side Story, but you’d be hard pressed to picture gang members dancing around in unison after the first minute or two.
Similarly, the version of “Solar” that Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette present here has only a passing melodic resemblance to either the version Miles Davis’ quartet did on 1954’s Walkin’ or the one Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette did on 1992’s Tribute, which was recorded October 15, 1989 at the…well, you get the idea.
Ultimately, Somewhere, like so many of the albums Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette have made before it, stands out because how these guys make these songs sound like originals.
Of course, choosy people might think they’re okay with the Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette trio albums that they already own. But then, choosy people also choose Jif, and we all know how crappy Jif tastes. It’s sort of the irony of these guys: they rework other people’s songs until they sound new and original, but they never rework their own approach.
But that just reminds me of something AC/DC guitarist Angus Young once said: “I’m sick to death of people saying we’ve made eleven albums that sounds exactly the same. In fact, we’ve made twelve albums that sound exactly the same.”
He’s kidding, of course. And truth be told, there are subtle differences between the way Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette played in 2009 than they did in 2002, and especially between then and 1989. But, ultimately, Somewhere is just another great collection of standards redone by three guys who breathe new life into every song they do, no matter when they record them, what venue it was in, and who wrote them originally.