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Trio performs jazz standards

Christopher Kepner | Wednesday, April 7, 2004

If you’ve ever wanted to give jazz a shot, check out this album. It’s really difficult to argue with a group that’s been playing together for over 20 years. Pianist Keith Jarrett’s most acclaimed trio, with Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, has been a hallmark in the jazz world for over two decades now. They celebrated this milestone with the release of their latest album “Up For It.” Picture this scene. July is unseasonably rainy in Juan-les-Pins, France, and the 42nd Festival de Jazz Antibes is unable to escape the weather. The days leading up to the 16th, when Jarrett’s trio is scheduled to play, are wet, dark, and bleak. The three veteran musicians sit anxiously in their hotel rooms with fading hopes that the weather will clear up before they are supposed to perform at the festival, which is held exclusively outdoors with no backup venue in case of rain (because they’ve never needed one!). Having performed at the festival seven times before in beautiful weather, the trio feels out of their element given the current conditions.The 16th comes without a break in the rain. Clear plastic drop cloths are hung all around the stage to keep the instruments dry, although Jarrett thinks the piano is already waterlogged. While they have the option, according to their contract, to cancel their performance due to the inclement weather, the group reluctantly opts to play.The stage is an open one, behind which the Mediterranean Sea lies. The sun has gone down. It’s dark and it’s raining. There are thousands of people on hand. It isn’t very often that a musician gets the opportunity to perform in a setting such as this. Once the trio starts playing, all of their hesitation and disdain melts away. It’s just Keith, Gary and Jack – three old friends who have enjoyed playing together for 20 years.And the music that came out of that performance was memorable. All of the songs in the set are standards except for the title track, which was composed by Jarrett. “If I Were a Bell,” “Butch & Butch,” “Scrapple From the Apple,” “Someday My Prince Will Come,” “Two Degrees East, Three Degrees West” and “Autumn Leaves” are given fresh, exciting interpretations by these three masters. Every measure of this album will engage listeners and leave them thirsting for the next. Whether you listen intently to what’s going on in the music or simply throw it in your player as background music, anyone will be able to enjoy this fantastic album from one of the best piano trios of all time. Jazz is America’s gift to the world. Pick up this album and discover what you’ve been missing.

Contact Christopher Kepner at ckepner@nd.edu