Pop, hot and haute culture around Seattle

OK, so it wasn’t a Beatles reunion; but the event was of similar importance and scale since it’s only one of four such concerts this year.
Seattle’s Benaroya Hall was the venue for this rare event: a jazz concert with Keith Jarrett on piano, Seattle resident Gary Peacock on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums, an event billed as their 30th anniversary concert. Although they each have separate careers, the trio has still cut 20 albums since their first session in 1983, and racked up countless awards and recognition.

The occasion for this concert here is noteworthy in its own right: the kick-off session of Earshot Jazz Festival’s 29th season. Over the next two months Earshot will bring 56 acts to 16 venues, until November 17. Besides Jarrett, other acts will feature musicians bringing world-wide influences to the form include Manhattan Transfer, Garfield and Roosevelt High School Jazz bands, Philip Glass, and, for its closing concert at Town Hall, Charles Lloyd and Friends with Bill Frisell.

But I digress. Back to Jarrett & Co. They’ve been playing together so much that one really does sense an almost psychic connection among the three of them. Jarrett would start and the others would pick up and played along right on cue. They had very little interaction with the audience, so most of their pieces weren’t identified. Nonetheless, the emotions and feeling put into their playing was evident as they played off each other.

The first song that Handsome Hunk and I identified was the third one in the first set: ‘Fever’.  One key to Jarrett’s success is his practice of memorizing the lyrics to whatever song he’s rehearsing; he says this allows him to interpret the song according to the meaning of the words. This practice was very much in evidence during ‘Fever’. He started softly, a quiet walk through the song. Peacok and DeJohnette joined in next, jamming their way through the middle part, keeping it all sultry and swinging. Jarrett ended the piece as he began, a sexy stroll out of the song. The ghost of Peggy Lee was very much onstage with them.

This trio played two forty-minute sets to a wildly appreciative audience before offering four encores, each one quieter and more intimate. The last one, ‘When I Fall in Love’ was as hushed and intimate as a loving whisper. Then the wildly enthusiastic audience finally, reluctantly went home (although H H and I did note the house, while full, was not the capacity crowd which saw Hugh Laurie and his Copper Bottom Band some time ago).

Still, for a rainy weeknight, the audience was large, warm and highly appreciative of this special treat. If John Gilbreath can attract this caliber for an opening act, then there’s plenty of opportunity for great music for another great arts event in Seattle.

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