Keith Jarrett - The Carnegie Hall Concert

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ECM 985 6224 | ****
Keith Jarrett (p). Rec. 2005

Keith Jarrett - The Carnegie Hall ConcertThis was Jarrett’s first American solo concert in a decade and he wanted to do something special. He had been working on a different approach to solo piano that had begun with Radiance and the DVD Tokyo Solo. Instead of the long arcs of interlinked developmental passages that characterised earlier solo classics such as The Köln Concert, Sun Bear Concerts, Vienna Concert and La Scala, he dispensed with the segued passages to present the kernel of his improvised episode as a smaller form. Thus the concert comprises 10 improvised passages, varying in length from just over three minutes to well over nine minutes.

These are quite unlike anything Jarrett has previously done in solo concert; intense episodes that give fleeting allusions suggestive of a recital by a distinguished, but lesser known mid-European classical composer or Shostakovich’s Fugue in D-Flat Major No. 15, whose jagged trajectory and metrical dislocation seem to inspire a flow of ideas and creativity. Ideas well up, take shape and almost as quickly disappear. This rigorous self-editing has produced a stunning series of improvisations that never once lack drama, development or definition.

The five encores that follow come as a complete contrast yet sustain the creative moment, perhaps the most fascinating is the spontaneously improvised ‘The Good America’, a heartfelt paean to the country Jarrett loves, a kaleidoscopic ‘True Blues’ and a new perspective on ‘My Song’, written for his now legendary Belonging quartet in 1977.

Stuart Nicholson