'Endless' Keith Jarrett Trio (Changeless, ECM, 1987)

Sad to say but many unbelievers discount jazz thinking that it's a cold, unfeeling musical genre, far too proud and self-aware for its own good, full of men performing, for themselves, strutting about even if they remain still, performing as if the audience didn't exist, or only existed to offer them praise (at particular moments decided by them). 

Certainly I can relate to this. I don't really like many live jazz performances for this reason and am turned off by what I see to be the performers' 'unseeing' gaze ... I remember going to a famous jazz club in Paris and being so bored (stupid) that my mind swam with angry thoughts, while I sat there planning methods of escape (Something was dying inside me).

And yet if you listen to this piece by the Keith Jarrett Trio, a recording taken from a series of concerts and released as the record, Changeless what you immediately notice is the work's interior quality, but despite what I've written here, this is not an issue, as it feels personal. The fact that the musicians are stepping back to communicate something from their psyche - the way they make it unique to them - somehow makes it universal.

It's so warm, so full of emotion that that stereotype of the disengaged jazz musician going through the motions falls through the floor. 

This piece can touch you in a multitude of ways; you can connect with the unexpected turns via the improvisation, or the way the structure of the central refrain is employed, with such subtlety, or you can appreciate the extraordinary contributions of bassist Gary Peacock and the drummer, Jack DeJohnette. Indeed, when I listen to this music I focus in on their contributions, especially the bass-line that has a corporeal element to it, it seems to me, again warm like blood inside a body. 

And then there is the sweetly reticent piano-line, more often than not two or perhaps three notes repeated with such simplicity; offering up what hip-hop producers call 'stabs' (insistent, but shy at the same time because of the lack of display). There is great modesty in this performance by Keith Jarrett and this is what I also love about this piece, the lack of preening or display. He breaks it down, and then again. 

But as with any great piece of jazz music it is always about the elements (the certain parts that are discrete, reflecting transitions) but also the whole, and as listeners we feel this and are, I would suggest, comforted by the movement and the sense of completion. For me, this music is deeply reassuring, not unlike a lullaby being sung to a child who has difficulty falling asleep.

Here is a spiel from the ECM promo notes on the record, with brief reference to the track being featured here that it describes as 'one of the most gorgeous things the trio has ever put out' .. and an interview with Jarrett for Swedish TV (very rare! to quote the description).

Very, very bad sound (but pretty interesting all the same).