Standards, Vol. 1
|Studio album by |
Keith Jarrett Trio
|Recorded||1983, January 11-12|
|Studio||Power Station, New York City, U.S.A.|
|Length||45:33 (Vol. 1)|
45:08 (Vol. 2)
|Keith Jarrett Trio chronology|
Standards, Vol. 2
|Vol. 1: Allmusic|||
|Vol. 1: Rolling Stone|||
|Vol. 2: Allmusic|||
Standards is a two-volume set of jazz performances that marked the starting point of the legendary Keith Jarrett's "Standards Trio" in collaboration with Gary Peacock on double bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. It was recorded during two long sessions in January 1983 which also produced enough material for an extra album called Changes.
ECM Records originally released them as a three separate albums that have been multiply re-issued ever since.
Standards Vol. 1 was released on cassette and LP in 1983.
Changes was released on CD and vinyl in September 1984.
Standards Vol. 2 was released on CD and vinyl in April 1985.
Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette had originally worked together on a 1977 album headline by Peacock, Tales of Another, coming back together in 1983 when producer Manfred Eicher proposed a trio album to Jarrett. Jarrett approached Peacock and DeJohnette with the idea of performing standards, which was greatly contrary to the contemporary jazz scene of the early 1980s. In a 2008 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Jarrett recalled his reasons for wanting to record standards. "This material was so damn good," he said, "and why was everyone ignoring it and playing clever stuff that sounds all the same?" He told Salon in 2000 that "[a] valuable player doesn't have to play anything new to have value, because it's not about the material, it's about the playing."
The three joined in a studio in Manhattan, New York City for a 2 day session during which they recorded enough material for three albums, the two Standards volumes and Changes. For that session, as in subsequent, the trio did not rehearse or pre-plan their playlist.
DeJohnette, also speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, recalled that the trio had agreed to "do this until we don't feel like doing this anymore". In 2008, the trio celebrated its 25th anniversary, becoming during that time "the preeminent jazz group interpreting standards".
The first of the pair, Standards, Vol. 1 reached No.14 on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts.
In his review in Rolling Stone Steve Futterman describes the Standards Trio debut album as "merely...competent", criticizing Jarrett's "deficiencies as a jazz improviser" and also adding a few visionary comments:
"Jarrett's technical skills may be unquestionable, but on this record, the singsong monochromaticism and skim-the-surface profundity of his style are all too apparent. Jarrett never digs into a tune; he glides over it. The only way you can tell he is heating up is when his grunts get louder. Yet this is the very pianistic method that has made Jarrett a star - his solos are so pleasingly pretty and unobtrusive that you don't really have to listen to them."
"The best that can be said about this project is that Jarrett is still his own man. The same quirks, mannerisms and lapses in taste displayed here were evident on his first trio LP for Atlantic fifteen years ago. In light of Jarrett's many multidisc sets, the fact that he named this collection Standards, Vol. 1 is a very frightening thought." 
The second in the series, Standards, Vol. 2, did not chart, but according to jazz commentator Scott Yanow "gets the edge over the first due to its slightly more challenging material". Yanow characterizes Jarrett's performance in this set as "surprisingly playful".
Jazz musician and writer Ian Carr noted in his biography of Jarrett that with these volumes the trio had found "fresh ways of approaching the classic jazz repertoire". In its review of the box set, Pop Matters noted that the material "sounded dazzling in the mid-1980s", adding that "[f]ans of Jarrett, like myself, will always hear these records as having a fresh immediacy".