This 2001 date recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival represents the first time the trio opted to perform select jazz standards within a stride and ragtime mode of attack. As this two-CD set preambles the band’s twenty-fifth year of existence, presumably with no end in sight. Otherwise, pianist Keith Jarrett’s recently publicized gestures to audiences (pro or con) should not negate the sheer value and artisanship that the unit brings to the proverbial table. Eccentricities aside, the overall breadth and scope of this trio’s symbiosis cannot be undermined.
From the onset, it comes as no surprise that the musicians’ impeccable timing and lyrically resplendent collaborations are in order here. Listen to the way Jarrett seemingly slow dances across his keyboard on his lovely rendition of "My Foolish Heart." And then check out their heated bop spin on "Oleo," where bassist Gary Peacock’s booming and fluid walking bass lines are complemented by drummer Jack DeJohnette’s zippy syncopations. Moreover, the trio’s rendition of "Ain’t Misbehavin’" is a true-to-form, good-timey stride vamp.
Jarrett continues in stride-piano mode on "Honeysuckle Rose," which is integrated with a lightly-tapping swing metric, featuring Peacock’s reformulation of the primary melody during the bridge. Moving forward, the pianist engineers a progressive-jazz take on "Straight No Chaser," that is catapulted by DeJohnette’s articulately expressed, polyrhythmic drive. In simple terms, the trio is at the top of its game. They don’t reinvent the piano trio format, but simply make it better.