Thursday, 3 August 2017

Keith Jarrett - The Köln Concert, album review

Better Late than Never

Late to the party again, I have today listened to this 'classic' album for the first time. Still examining, I continue with instrumental music, and this live solo piano recording is, apparently, the biggest selling of all time.

I missed that. And what a miss: it is stunning. I recommend allmusic and The Guardian for expansive reviews, and there are many more out there, not surprisingly, for such a noted album in the history not just of jazz or solo playing but of live music in general.

I love my being late and having missed and still trying to stuff huge pockets of ignorance. Here I am after all those years since 1975 enjoying this brilliance for the first time. And the mystique that has built up around the performance: Jarrett not having slept, wearing a body-brace at what turned out to be an allegedly crap piano - certainly not the one expected - and nearly falling asleep whilst playing which is a wondrous improvisation that riffs around quite beautiful melodies.

Reading today I was bemused how this is described as a 'stoner' classic, which means a must in the collection of any stoner, and by extrapolation I guess that means hippie-type and by that I guess that means me, then and now, in terms of musical tastes/proclivities.

More pertinently to me, I was interested to read how this recording alienated many [or a number, anyway] of jazz aficionados because it isn't classically jazz in that jazz tonal off-key and off-beat way it can be, certainly if 'modern'. This improvised piece is definitely more pop oriented, bluesy at times, but just simply melodic, and Jarrett riffs beautifully across the simple melodic lines to create the real majesty.

So after listening to this I have engaged with others today - these long, examining days - but rather than write about that whole range, I will mention just one more, A Multitude of Angels, which is a four cd set from 1996, recorded at 4 different live solo session in Italy. As I write, I am listening to the first from the second disc Ferrar, which is gorgeous, but the one I enjoyed most was the first from the first disc Modena, which is another absolutely beautiful long 30 minute piece of piano pleasure, quite bluesy at times and again riffed wonderfully around established lines. The second, interestingly, is more overtly 'jazzy', though this ends so peacefully, and the third is a sweet take on Danny Boy.

Yes, very late to the party, but still one of the greatest ever attended.

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