Pianist Keith Jarrett, drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Gary Peacock recorded their albums of jazz standards too soon. The passion for melody and the musicianly rapport that were missing from their 1983 sessions were overflowing at the trio's exhilarating Kennedy Center concert Saturday night. Jarrett, usually tense and somber on stage, seemed relaxed and happy as he traded melodic improvisations with his two partners and often laughed with pleasure at the results.
Jarrett began Jerome Kern's "In Love in Vain" with an unaccompanied piano solo that caressed the ballad until the phrases seemed to sigh as if sung by a vocalist. DeJohnette joined in with restrained cymbal work that was as tuneful as it was rhythmic. Peacock followed Jarrett with a bass solo that capped off quick sprints with humming sustained notes.
Jarrett transformed Billie Holiday's "God Bless the Child" with a repeating left-hand figure that almost became a rhythm and blues riff. While DeJohnette reinforced that galloping rhythm, Jarrett's right hand took off on adventurous excursions that mixed be-bop, blues and gospel phrases like Horace Silver. DeJohnette's robust, rolling drum solo kept returning to a clearly discernible melodic phrase, and then he pushed Jarrett into a frenetic climax, just like in their days together in the Charles Lloyd Quartet.