|Keith Jarrett - The Carnegie Hall Concert (2005)|
|Front Cover||Album Info|
|AMG Review by Thom Jurek (4):
The new rules Keith Jarrett has made for himself in solo performance are firmly in play on the two-disc Carnegie Hall Concert, recorded in the Isaac Stern Auditorium in September of 2005. Those who found his earlier solo recordings — from Vienna and Köln to La Scala — to be compelling might be a bit disconcerted at first, because of the completely different approach Jarrett has taken to improvising. His concert is divided into shorter segments, or parts, and often changes direction numerous times in the course of a single piece. Indeed, the impression is given almost of composed songs where harmony, melody, and rhythm are pulled to the breaking point and reassembled along new lines. And even in more angular or turbulent sections, Jarrett's ideas are drenched in lyric ideas. Whether he is playing against himself contrapuntally, entering into a difficult chromatic interlude, or opening onto a pastoral sonic field, his notion of "song" prevails. His more knotty and immediate approach is full of wonderful ideas, sometimes deeply serious, at others humorous and beguiling. But there isn't a dull moment. Indeed, if the audience — which contained many critics and musicians — is any indication, the electricity carried over the stage both ways. There are ten parts that make up the concert proper, and on disc two, five short encore pieces that run from four to six minutes in length, culminating in his only standard, with a beautiful reading of "Time on My Hands." His beautiful reading of "My Song" (from a quartet recording in 1977) is here, restated with consummate grace. This is a Jarrett solo set for the ages; it showcases, since his full return in 1997, his renewed and restless commitment to the music and to himself as an artist.
ECM Releases Keith Jarrett's "The Carnegie Hall Concert " on September 26, 2006
Keith Jarrett: piano
ECM 2-CD set: B0007362-02
The Carnegie Hall Concert was Keith Jarrett's first North American solo concert in a decade and perhaps one of the most wide-ranging of all his performances. The album almost amounts to an autobiographical portrait of the great improviser. Each of his two sets takes the form of a suite of songs, some intensely lyrical, others angular, turbulent, or probing. And the encores--no less than five of them--touch upon the blues and boogie-woogie, upon standard material (”Time On My Hands”), and even offer a new perspective on “My Song”, written for the Scandinavian 'Belonging' quartet and first recorded by Jarrett in 1977.
In the rare solo concerts Keith Jarrett has given following his return to the form in 1997, he has been readjusting his approach to solo improvisation. As he explained in an interview in DownBeat last year, he has granted himself the periodic freedom to stop... and to grant each spontaneously-evolving musical idea no more than the space it requires. The long arcs of segued episodes that characterized earlier solo performances--including those released on albums including The Kln Concert, Sun Bear Concerts, Vienna Concert, La Scala and many others - have been banished, replaced now by an emphasis on smaller forms: “If I start to play and a minute-and-a-half later I feel a piece is over, I'll stop. It's the freedom to stop when stopping seems correct. I had got myself locked into a slightly too complicated situation where the rules I had made for myself had been governing me - instead of making simple rules that could take me somewhere new.”
Radiance and the DVD Tokyo Solo, both recorded in 2002 documented the beginning of this process. On The Carnegie Hall Concert, recorded in September 2005 at America's most prestigious venue, it is clear that Jarrett is enjoying his new liberties, as is his audience. The sold-out Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, included--in addition to numerous passionately committed fans--many musicians and critics. No one was disappointed and the electrifying atmosphere is evidenced by the ecstatic applause.
Wall Street Journal critic Larry Blumenfeld outlined the direction of the concert: “Mr Jarrett began with a piece that played like an overture: there were suggestions of a ballad colored by splashes of harmony but these gave way to a cat and mouse game of contrapuntal lines. From there, pieces grew shorter and formed a succession that revealed melodic cohesion as well as stark contrasts... Whatever musical references Mr Jarrett's improvisations called up for listeners, nothing sounded automatic or at all derivative throughout the evening. Yet perhaps ironically, his brief pieces more often than not took the form of composed tunes--in many spots more memorably than most contemporary songs... Mr Jarrett has arrived at a newly satisfying solo approach--one that gives rise to songs that take shape and just as quickly disappear, and which may script a fresh chapter of his storied career.”
There were many such comments. The New York Times hailed the concert as “a major event”. All About Jazz praised the “astonishing expertise” and “astonishing clarity” of Jarrett's performance, while Jazz Times praised his “innate and unerring sense of craft”.
allaboutjazz By Jason Crane
Three minutes and 22 seconds into “Part 3” of The Carnegie Hall Concert, pianist Keith Jarrett uses one of his trademark vocalizations as a second instrument, elevating the stately piece into a gorgeous anthem that grabs the attention and lifts the spirit. Then, a few seconds later, he stops. It's hard to decide which moment is more arresting.
Jarrett is justifiably famous for his solo piano playing. The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975) was the Frampton Comes Alive! of piano jazz albums in the '70s—as close to arena rock popularity and ubiquity as 66 minutes of solo piano is ever likely to get. One thing about those 66 minutes, though, is that they were divided into four parts. The new Jarrett-as-soloist is more inclined to stop playing every once in a while.
It's not that the Köln-era improvs were too long, it's just that it's refreshing to hear a master improviser like Jarrett work with shorter forms. “Part 2,” for example, finds Jarrett winding his vaguely Middle Eastern melodic line over a dense and solid left-hand groove. This exciting work lasts all of three and a half minutes—long enough to get a taste and to be left wanting more.
The two-disc set is not uniformly inspiring. “Part 1” never seems to go anywhere, and while that's not always necessary, this piece would have benefited from some development along the way. But for the few moments that may fall short, there are many more examples of a level of musical understanding attained by very few players.
Jarrett is moving so quickly in “Part 6” that it's a wonder he can keep pace with himself. Yet the piece hangs together, in part because of his smart use of space during the stacked series of runs up and down the keyboard. The shift in tempo and style at 3:40 feels like emerging into a glittering cavern after running down a narrow tunnel.
“Part 7,” though, is where the Jarrett of the Gospel returns from the 1970s. The Jarrett who preaches. The Jarrett who implores and inspires. This is not the Jarrett you'll see interviewed, or the man you'll read about in the magazines. This is the secret prophet locked away behind the controlled exterior. This Jarrett sings, and when he sings, he parts the clouds and makes you realize that the piano can be all things at any moment. This Jarrett will make you clap your hands. He'll make you smile. He'll make everything okay, and you'll want to surround yourself in this music forever.
And in the end, that's really what a master musician like Keith Jarrett is all about. He helps us transcend the everyday, the mundane, the unflinching realities of the world. He helps us aspire to be more. And for that, we should all be grateful.