The songbook craze wheels around to the compositions of Keith Jarrett, which ought to be an oxymoron since we're dealing with an artist who usually makes up things on the wing. Yet it works, for not only does this package isolate and spotlight some nice tunes by the prolific pianist; it also honors his eclectic bent by roaming all over the spectrum in search of diverse idioms. Bruce Hornsby is delightfully funky on piano in a second-line New Orleans treatment of "Backhand," which goes through some riotous passages. Pianist Chucho Valdes bumps through "U Dance" with the unorthodox help of baritone saxophonist Jay Rodriguez, while guitarist John Scofield is relaxed as he meanders through "Coral." Book of Ways, the Jarrett album recorded on a clavichord, is represented by "9" as played by classical violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Bob James on electric piano, and a string quartet scrapes determinedly away at "10." Mike Mainieri overdubs vibraphone upon marimba to produce satisfyingly rich tubular textures on "Starbright," and Jimmy Greene backs his soprano saxophone with nothing but Lord Jamar's drum and keyboard programming on "The Cure." Of course, there is also straight-ahead mainstream improvisation -- such as that from tenor Joe Lovano and trumpeter Tom Harrell on "Shades of Jazz" -- but most of the time, the combinations are odd and even zany. There aren't too many truly imaginative songbook albums around, but luckily, the Jarrett tribute is one of them.
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AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell