Most people are well aware of the concept of "comfort" food. In times of stress or even reflective solitude, we head toward the familiar. We know what we're getting. That recipe for macaroni & cheese handed down from Grandma always delivers. Always.
What does this have to do with jazz?
When I sat down to write this review, the idea of "comfort food" wasn't exactly on the list of topics. And yet, after listening to My Foolish Heart a few times, it dawned on me that the Jarrett/Peacock/DeJohnette trio is one I return to often. Most important, I never tire of them: there's your connection… sort of.
The key difference hinges on consistency. With comfort food, you do know what you're getting. You know the tastes, the aromas, the warm hug of the experience. With this trio's music — and My Foolish Heart is no exception — you will get that embrace, but the way it's delivered is different every time.
The word that can't be ignored with these musicians is interplay. Jarrett, Peacock, and DeJohnette have known each other for so long that even the most familiar material is transformed before your ears as reactions that have become internalized are on full and brilliant display: Gary Peacock's sparse walk underneath Jarrett's first chorus of "On Green Dolphin Street," the way Jarrett flys through the chord changes of "Four" as if for the first time, the deconstruction (and repair!) of the center section of Monk's "Straight No Chaser," and the full-on swing assault during Sonny Rollins' "Oleo."
Even during quieter moments, the passion flows unabated. Jarrett builds a long chord solo that's used as the introduction to the title track. It's seems like an abstract, gauzy take on the main theme that is slowly bent back into focus. It sounds lived in. As the rest of the band joins in, Jarrett's phrases are accented, no… cradled, by Peacock's bass reactions.
Throughout all of the proceedings, there is Jack DeJohnette. Whether holding together the delicate "Only The Lonely" (with just brushes and hi-hat) or applying extra jazz-torque to the more angular moments ("Oleo" again comes to mind), or implying the structure during the bass solos, DeJohnette manages to perfectly split the bill between support and protagonist (Or is that, "antagonist"?!).
My Foolish Heart allows the band to let their hair down a bit and have some fun on the jaunty trio of "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Honeysuckle Rose," and "You Took Advantage of Me." I'm not sure I've ever heard these guys having so much fun. It would make Fats Waller proud.
The idea of music as comfort food might seem like an unnecessary stretch, but when groups such as this are so consistently good, it feels like the superlative jar is becoming empty. Take it from my ears, they always deliver.