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Published: 2009/02/17
by Brian Robbins

Yesterdays Keith Jarrett / Gary Peacock / Jack DeJohnette


Yesterdays, the latest release from the legendary jazz trio of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette, is chock full of unbridled bebop-inspired energy. Featuring cuts captured during a April 30, 2001 performance in Tokyo, Yesterdays launches out of the chute with the trio’s take on Horace Silver’s “Strollin’” and never looks back. For sure, the album’s mellower moments are beautiful (catch Jarrett’s wistful intro that drifts into “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”), but the headfirst dives into bebop territory are what set this collection apart. Highlights include Charlie Parker’s “Scrapple From The Apple” and the Parker/Dizzy Gillespie number “Shaw’nuff”, both featuring absolutely joyous forays into rhythm-driven jams. I’ll run the risk of sounding like someone reviewing the latest AC/DC album here, but for maximum enjoyment of Yesterdays, do yourself a favor: when these guys turn it up, so should you. The sound quality is excellent: you are there – not just front row, but nestled amongst the three of them. There’s something wonderful about hearing Jarrett’s off-mike moans of bliss or the sizzle of DeJohnette’s cymbals or the upper-register fetch-you-up-in-midbreath reachings of Peacock’s bass lines.

The final cut on Yesterdays is actually a caught-on-the-fly bonus nugget: a take of “Stella By Starlight” from a soundcheck on April 24th. Jarrett leads the trio into the main theme with Peacock and DeJohnette feeling out the groove they enter delicately, but after a minute and a half, they’re locked in solid and cooking. About four minutes in, Gary Peacock takes the lead, building the piece’s intensity as Jarrett doles out little flutters and sweet bits. This leads to a call-and-response section: passages of Jarrett’s smiling piano and Peacock’s driving bass are woven between joyful explosions from DeJohnette’s drums. The absolute passion of the trio’s playing makes you shake your head. Soundcheck? Maybe so they were still playing for keeps. We glide to a gentle landing after the trio revisits the melody and says goodnight to Stella. There’s a moment of silence followed by the space travelers catching their breaths, aware that they’ve just returned from somewhere far away. “I hope you taped that, actually,” says Jarrett.

Luckily for us, they did.

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