Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Keith Jarrett - Paris / London: Testament (ECM, 2009)

For the past twenty or so years, pianist Keith Jarrett has alternated between extemporaneous solo performances and trio recordings with his longtime bandmates Gary Peacock and Jack JeJohnette. This three disc collection is a recording of two long solo performances recorded live in Europe. It is a fascinating, if exhausting listening experience with Jarrett moving from gentle melodic improvisations to abstract, at times dissonant sections. He has stated in the past the he is merely the conduit for the music and that sense is continued here with the music flowing onward like a river, broken only by lengthy stretches of buoyant applause. It must be said that Jarrett never takes the easy way out as a solo performer, he demands a lot from himself and the audience. Using the length and breadth of the keyboard he crafts elaborate stories with the piano. If you are a fan of the Jarrett solo canon, you will most certainly like this album, but newcomers are probably better served with The Koln Concert album as a starting point. Also, don't miss the special guest post from Ethan Iverson on Destination Out where he compares Jarrett's spontaneous recordings to Paul Bley's records of the mid-1960's. Paris / London: Testament - amazon.com

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