Jerome Kern’s “Yesterdays” speaks of ‘Days I knew as happy sweet/ Sequestered days/ Olden days/Golden days...’”. 2001, clearly, was a golden year for the Jarrett/Peacock/ DeJohnette trio, rich in exceptional performances; “Yesterdays” is the fourth album culled from their 2001 touring. In the chronology it belongs alongside “Always Let Me Go”, also recorded in Tokyo in April of that year, and it balances that album’s exploratory earnestness with a light and often playful touch that also brings forth music of great creativity – this time focussed and marshalled inside the ‘standards’ tradition. As Jarrett said to the Los Angeles Times recently, “We know how musical these songs are... Jazz musicians don’t have to always break down doors: there’s music inside the rooms too.”
This particular set’s emphasis on bebop embraces Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple from the Apple”, “Shaw’nuff” by Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver’s “Strollin’”, and a piece often associated with Dexter Gordon, “You’ve Changed”. The show tune “You Took Advantage Of Me”, which in a more rigorously ‘ragtime’ version would be a highlight of the Montreux performance issued as “My Foolish Heart”, is also heard here, and there are beautiful ballad interpretations including two Jerome Kern songs, “Yesterdays” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”, as well as Harold Arlen’s mid-tempo “A Sleepin’ Bee”(which Gary Peacock memorably played with Bill Evans in 1964).
Tracks one through eight were recorded at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Hall. The album concludes with a rare ECM bonus track - an ‘audio verité’ account of a piece taped at a soundcheck a week earlier, at Orchard Hall. In this context, too, with no audience present, the trio players give their hearts, energies and full attention to the music.
The release of “Yesterdays” follows the 25th anniversary of the trio in 2008, a celebration marked by intensified touring activity, much press attention, and a number of historical releases from ECM – two double DVDs (“Standards I/II” and “Live In Japan”) as well as the widely-acclaimed three CD box “Setting Standards”, which documented the birth of the Standards project in the now-legendary New York recordings of 1983. Additionally, three of Jarrett’s titles – “Standards Live”, “Bye Bye Blackbird” and the solo “Facing You” - were reissued in ECM’s popular ‘Touchstones’ series. This banner year for Jarrett was capped by his induction into Down Beat’s Hall of Fame in December.
The work with the trio goes on, of course. As Keith Jarrett says, "If you meet the perfect other two players for your needs in a musical jazz situation, why would you force yourself to go around the corner and find other people to play with?"
“Yesterdays” is issued simultaneously on CD and vinyl (180 gram pressing): it’s the first new ECM vinyl release from ECM in 15 years.
The press on My Foolish Heart:
It’s downright embarrassing to have to write yet another rave review of yet another release from Keith Jarrett’s Standards trio, but goddammit if this isn’t the most ebullient – in a word – lovely, piano trio music I’ve ever heard.
Richard Lehnert, Stereophile
The postmillennial trio has a lighter attack and brighter spirit than the group did in its early phase, along with a greater sense of emotional balance; it’s contemplative but not ponderous, nostalgic but not mawkish or retro. “My Foolish Heart” nails this dynamic, seesawing between streamlined bebop and rueful ballads and flirting meaningfully with ragtime and stride.
Nate Chinen, The New York Times
Pianist Keith Jarrett seems to have a never-ending hoard of top-dollar live recordings by his standard trio of bassist and drummer Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette. This two-CD set from the 2001 Montreux Jazz Festival finds them in a particularly buoyant mood. The trio vibrantly deconstruct a seminal mix of modern jazz classics and songbook standards, while three tracks of them toying with ragtime and stride make the recording unique.
Mike Hobart, Financial Times
Jarrett’s trio, if it has not already achieved it, is now reaching institutional status, it is music making at the highest level, and since their first sessions in 1983, the trio have remained a benchmark of excellence in jazz, not only in the art of the piano trio but also the art of improvisation. …You sense the tension but also the joy of music making.
Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise
The pianist has pulled this group to the edge of free-jazz at times, but if this performance stays close to songs, they’re not only Broadway standards and jazz classics but also stride classics given a thumping ragtime momentum. Jarrett can be a solemn performer, but there’s a joyful bounce about much of this music. …
A beautifully weighted and sparingly distilled account of “Only the Lonely” closes a show that emphasises how much invention continues to be at this long-standing trio’s fingertips.
John Fordham, The Guardian