(ECM 472 1225)
Arguably the pre-eminent pianist of his generation, Keith Jarrett turned 70 last month and the ECM label has honoured this milestone by releasing not just this CD of solo piano improvisations, but also, under its New Series imprint, his interpretations of piano concertos by Barber and Bartók , recorded in the 1980s but never previously released (ECM 481 1580).
Fans of Jarrett’s solo piano performances – and there are many classic recordings from the past 40 years, the most famous beingThe Koln Concert from 1975 – will be accustomed to hearing a concert in its entirety. Creation breaks with this tradition.
It is a set of shorter pieces selected and sequenced by Jarrett from concerts he gave in Tokyo, Toronto, Paris and Rome between April and July last year.
What is not different is the wealth of music to be found emerging in a determinedly unplanned way from this extraordinary, ever-developing and ever-searching master musician, though in its overall mood and construction it feels a fair distance from Koln.
So honed now is Jarrett’s way of improvising – and it’s probably accentuated by the fact that he tends to do so in shorter, separated sections rather than fill whole concert halves or LP sides with a single arc of music – that these feel at times more like more pre-conceived compositions. There is also a reflective, more sober air – melancholic even – in the selections chosen here. It is a natural inclination from a man approaching old age. Not that Keith is going so gentle into that good night that he can’t help but let out an ecstatic cry here and there.
This is a gorgeous album, achingly beautiful in places, always focussed, never self-indulgent, and a generous gift to his fans at a time when the presents should be moving in the other direction.
Categories: CD review