Recorded in Munich, ECM's hometown, in 2001, "The Out-of-Towners " finds jazz's most consistently creative piano trio at the peak of its game. Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, and Jack DeJohnette captivate the audience at the Munich State Opera.
Balancing standards and jazz tunes with Keith Jarrett originals, the trio keeps the music in tight focus. There is spirited blues-based group improvisation in the title track, and shared joy as the musicians roar into "Five Brothers", the old Gerry Mulligan favourite, or negotiate the blissful, enraptured melody of Cole Porter’s "I Love You." At the album's conclusion, Keith Jarrett returns to the stage alone – a rare moment in the trio’s recordings - to play a heart dilating rendition of the ballad "It's All In The Game." -- so tender that it could easily have fit onto his "The Melody At Night With You" solo disc.
Jarrett’s overabundant imagination is happily reined in – disciplined, almost – by his rhythm-playing peers. It might seem odd that such ancient songs as Cole Porter’s “I Love You” should re-emerge here in brilliant new clothing. But the magic is that it does, and a pretty simple piece of composition gets an unexpected rebirth. … In pieces like the slow “You’ve Changed”, Peacock and DeJohnette hit a superb groove without ever abandoning their creative instincts. The bass comes in with occasional flurries and answer keyboard figures with instant rapport: the drums whisper under DeJohnette’s brushes. The session closes with Jarrett’s solo version of “It’s All In The Game”, in which he hardly strays from the theme, exploring its romantic cadences and investing it with rich harmonies. The opera house is struck dumb and, afterwards, the applause is deservedly generous. And we, of course, can return to this superb performance again and again. - Anthony Troon, Jazzreview