In this in-depth portrait of one the world's superstars of jazz, pianist Keith Jarrett talks the range of his music, the importance of improvisation, the great artists he has worked with, and about the highs and lows of his life. Further insights are provided by fellow musicians, family members and other musical associates. Incorporating recordings and rare archive footage of concerts dating back to the 1960s and including such greats as Miles Davis and Charles Lloyd, this first-ever major documentary has been made with the full cooperation of Keith Jarrett himself.
This gargantuan package – a ten-LP set now compressed into a chunky six-CD box – once was derided as the ultimate ego trip, probably by many who didn't take the time to hear it all. You have to go back to Art Tatum's solo records for Norman Granz in the '50s to find another large single outpouring of solo jazz piano like this, all of it improvised on the wing before five Japanese audiences in Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Tokyo, and Sapporo. Yet the miracle is how consistently good much of this giant box is.
Thanks in no small part to ECM founder Manfred Eicher's patience and indulgence, here we have another of Keith Jarrett's myriad of "special projects" – two CDs of music recorded on a clavichord. This carries Jarrett's anti-electric crusade to a real extreme, the clavichord being a keyboard from J.S. Bach's day, obsolete for over 200 years. The instrument produces a gentle pinging sound like a harpsichord crossed with a zither (the amplified Hohner Clavinet is the closest sound in our time), and Jarrett occasionally tries to stretch the instrument's limited possibilities, hammering percussively on the close-miked strings. Yet for the most part, Jarrett reins in his world-class technique in order to make unpretentiously minimal music on this ancient keyboard. Some of it sounds like folk music, some like new age contemplation, there are convincing neo-baroque musings, and a few of these untitled though numbered selections kick into a higher gear. Sometimes this music is charming; a lot of the time, it gets wearisome. But hey, they also laughed when Keith started putting out massive sets of solo piano…
The group colloquially known as “the Standards trio” has made many outstanding recordings, and After The Fall must rank with the very best of them. “I was amazed to hear how well the music worked,” writes Keith Jarrett in his liner note. “For me, it’s not only a historical document, but a truly great concert.” This performance in Newark, New Jersey in November 1998 marked Jarrett’s return to the concert stage after a two year hiatus. Joined by improvising partners Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, he glides and soars through classics of the Great American Songbook including “The Masquerade Is Over”, “Autumn Leaves”, “When I Fall In Love” and “I’ll See You Again”.
Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier is performed on the piano while Book Two is performed on the harpsichord. His tempos are very fast, and he has a certain sense of humor that comes through in all his performances, making what might seem academic, warm and accessible. Highly recommended - and check out Jarrett's other classical recordings for other delights just as great.
Recorded live in Tokyo in April 2001, Always Let Me Go is Keith Jarrett's 149th concert in Japan. Joined by his long-standing partners Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, these performances are playful, explosive, somber, and completely improvised. After 20 years of working together, they trust each other (and the audience) enough to deliver over two hours of unscripted music. DeJohnette prowls through his drums like a restless cougar: he chatters, scuffles, and pounces on the skins with agility. Likewise, Peacock spoons out a concrete foundation of bass; one that bubbles as it spreads through the cracks in Jarrett's 88 keys (which serve the pianist so very well).
Keith Jarrett's numerous volumes of improvised solo piano recordings are all treasure troves of spontaneous music making. Documented since the 1970s, they reveal the opening of his music as it readily embraces classical and sacred music influences, filters out what is unnecessary in his technique, and encounters the depth and breadth of the jazz tradition and his own unique abilities as a composer. The four discs in A Multitude of Angels were recorded in as many Italian cities during the last week of October 1996 – some 20 months after the concert captured on La Scala.
2011 two CD release from the Jazz pianist On April 9, 2011 Keith Jarrett returned to South America for the first time in decades to perform three solo concerts. The third and final concert found him in Rio de Janeiro in front of a packed house and enthralled audience. Inspired by the electrifying atmosphere, the pianist pulls a broad range of material from the ether: thoughtful/reflective pieces, abstract sound-structures, pieces that fairly vibrate with energy.
In his timeless solo concerts, Jarrett displays the uncanny ability to drop himself into a piece of improvised music as if it has been playing invisibly in the ether all along, requiring him only to pick up from whichever measure he encounters and leave the music to continue on after he has left the stage. This album predates Jarrett’s Köln concert by just two years and was the one that really put him on the map before that legendary successor. Yet we cannot simply say that Jarrett is channeling the cosmos and leave it at that, for he inhabits a melodic space that is tangible, his own. Though filed under jazz, this music is something far more than any generic summary could express. Still, I persist in trying.