Concert Preview: Gary Peacock with the Keith Jarrett Trio

Originally published in Earshot Jazz October 2011

Not only does bassist Gary Peacock supply harmonic and rhythmic foundations for the trio with pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Jack DeJohnette, he also provided the catalyst for their first recording together. In 1977 Peacock recorded six of his compositions with Jarrett and DeJohnette on Tales of Another. At the time Peacock lived in Seattle and taught music at Cornish College.

Steve Cline wrote about Peacock’s Seattle years in “Gary Peacock: Selfless Surrender” for the November 2003 issue of Earshot Jazz. Peacock grew up in Yakima. His drums propelled the school stage band until his 1954 graduation. Drafted into the military, he focused on learning the piano. Then the bass player quit his unit’s quintet. He switched to bass.

According to the Discogs website, his first recordings were two 1964 dates – one from Copenhagen, Ghosts with saxophonist Albert Ayler, and the other from West Germany, Paul Bley with Gary Peacock. Peacock’s earliest Seattle recordings are two tracks from Turning Point with pianist Bley, saxophonist John Gilmore, and drummer Billy Elgart, captured at the University of Washington in May 1968.

While stationed in Germany, Peacock left the military to join a band. The club where the band was playing closed after two weeks. Peacock left for New York. There he played with pianist Bill Evans and drummer Paul Motian. Peacock subbed for bassist Ron Carter during a West Coast tour with trumpeter Miles Davis.

New York life and rigorous musical schedules began to take a toll on Peacock’s health. Seeking personal renewal, he moved to Japan and began studying eastern medicine and philosophy. In Tokyo he made his first recording with DeJohnette (Have You Heard? – 1970).

Peacock’s relocated to Seattle in 1972 to study biology at the University of Washington. He subbed on a piano gig for Jim Knapp and after some prodding, agreed to join the faculty at Cornish.

Meanwhile, Jarrett and DeJohnette had developed a deep musical relationship. They spent 1966-68 touring and recording with saxophonist Charles Lloyd and 1970-71 with Davis. In May 1971, Jarrett and DeJohnette recorded a duet album Ruta And Daitya.

In January 1983, six years after the first recording of Peacock, Jarrett, and DeJohnette, the group reconvened. Within a day and a half they recorded eleven standards and three originals, enough to fill three albums – Standards Vol. 1, Standards Vol. 2, and Changes. Over the next nineteen years, the trio recorded twenty more albums together.

No other ensemble harnesses the breadth of individual experience, length of collective productivity, and depth of creative cohesion as this trio. Their music combines childlike wisdom and mature playfulness.

Both Peacock and DeJohnette are accomplished pianists. This unites the group with telepathic communication. Every melodic gesture and harmonic shift is felt musically and understood physically by the others. The three sided musical structure – piano melody, harmonic bass note, and rhythmic ride cymbal is solidly flexible and fluidly indestructible. These three artists form the most logical construct for exploring expressions of the human spirit.

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