JJ 09/93: Keith Jarrett – Bye Bye Blackbird

Thirty years ago, Graham Colombé thought the engineer should have minimised the pianist's vocal embellishments of some very good music. First published in Jazz Journal September 1993


This tribute to Miles contains some very good music. The stan­dards which make up most of the programme are played in con­ventional fashion and the odd track out is the 18 minute For Miles, which has compositional credits for all three musicians. After a lengthy, impressionistic drums introduction and some rhapsodising by Jarrett it moves into Moorish terrain over insis­tent and exotic rhythms and builds relentlessly to a climax provided by a single, repeated piano note. It’s an ambitious, hypnotic achievement but I find the tribute more effective within the varied tempos of the stan­dards, where Jarrett’s lines often have the simple clarity of Basie, John Lewis or, of course, Miles Davis.

Unfortunately that clarity is sometimes marred by the pian­ist’s occasional, approximate vocal parallels to his improvisa­tions, and these should surely have been minimised by the engi­neer – who is also at fault for under-recording Peacock’s bass. These flaws are irritating but the session has to be judged an over­all success because of the often inspired collaboration between Jarrett and the sensitive, inven­tive drumming of Jack DeJohnette.

Bye Bye Blackbird; You Won’t Forget Me; Butch And Butch; Summer Night; For Miles; Straight; No Chaser; I Thought About You; Blackbird, Bye Bye (67.57)
Keith Jarrett (p); Gary Peacock (b); Jack DeJohnette (d). NYC, October 12 1991.
(ECM 1467 513074-2)