Monday, 8 July 2013

1975 Keith Jarrett - The Kӧln Concert

Keith Jarrett, Kӧln Concert, Part II C

Info: I've always been impartial to a bit of piano, quite possibly, because like many Irish children I was forced to learn when young, although I hated piano practice at the time, something must have stuck with me through to adulthood. The only songs I remember enjoying playing were the intro to Eastenders (god help us) and Marc Cohn's 'Walking In Memphis', years later I regret not being able to play the piano, but as The Faces once sang 'I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger'. Also, who doesn't enjoy a bit of Chopin in the background while burning meat on the frying pan. 

I came across this amazing album when going through '1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die' and liked it instantly, it also became a bit of a soundtrack for last year's holiday in the south of France, could I sound any more poncey? Believe me I could, but on to who Mr.Jarrett is now and some info about the album itself. Born in Pennsylvania in 1945, Jarrett is mostly known for his solo work as a classical pianist, but his career began playing jazz piano with Art Blakey and Miles Davis among others. From a very young age he displayed immense talent, began playing the piano aged 3, and making his first formal appearance at the age of 7 playing classical works by the likes of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. Later on, Jarrett would attend music college in Boston, moonlighting as a pianist in cocktail bars, before moving to New York where he joined Blakey's Jazz Messengers, subsequently having great success with The Charles Lloyd Quartet who were pioneering free-form jazz at the time, recording the hit 1966 album, Forest Flower, a beat and hippie favourite. After the break-up of the Lloyd Quartet Jarrett formed his own trio, and it was following a Paris performance attended by Miles Davis and his group that Jarrett was recruited into their set up. Notable works with Davis include his Live at the Fillmore East album, and 1970 Isle of Wight performance which is on Bitche's Brew Live.

The Kӧln Concert album along with his solo Japanese Sun Bear Concerts (1976) were to become Jarrett's most successful recordings, indeed, the Kӧln album became the highest-selling piano album in history. Whilst achieving relatively good acclaim, his studio recordings were no match for his solo live performances. For me the magic lies in the fact that they are completely improvised, Jarrett sat down at the piano on the stage in front of a silent audience, and just let the music pour out of him, and it works incredibly well, so much so that each listen is like hearing the album for the first time, bar the odd marker. Looking like someone who had wandered through Woodstock and ended up in an auditorium, with his flower-power outfit and large afro, Jarrett pulls of wonderfully ponderous music which is so easy to get lost in such is his gifted piano-playing. I would describe the feeling listening to the Kӧln Concert as sitting in a small boat and setting off down the pianist's stream, not knowing where you are going or where you will end up, the melody of the piano playing carrying you along and a few bumps here and there when he reaches his crescendo. A joy to get lost in and an album for all occasions, I highly recommend it and the previously mentioned Sun Bear Concerts, a 10 LP recording (now compressed onto 6 cd's) performed over five concerts in Kyoto, Tokyo, Osaka, Sapporo and Nagoya in Japan. So, get yer Jarrett on with either of them, you'll be glad, and probably become a better person while you're at it.

Track Listing:

1. Part I         26:15
2. Part II a     15:00
3. Part II b     19:19
4. Part II c       6:59

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