Friday, December 20, 2013

Keith Jarrett - No End (ECM, 2013)

Over the past 20 years or so, the innumerable amount of Keith Jarrett's music that has flowed out ECM as regular as the tide has been either solo piano or in the piano trio format. Not that there's anything wrong with that, Jarrett is an accepted master and a critical favorite. In the light of this deluge it's easy to forget that he was quite the experimenter for a while as well, leading a great quartet with Dewey Redman, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian, and then releasing unrecognizable albums like the underrated Expectations. This set is endlessly interesting as it finds Jarrett as a one man band overdubbing himself on guitar, bass and percussion with not a piano to be seen. Jarrett states that "There was really, to my knowledge, no forethought or composition in the typical sense going on; just a feeling or a rhythmic idea or a bass line concept or melody. None of this was written down." But it works amazingly well. Far from the misanthropic musician he was to become, he is downright giddy on these sketches, setting up rhythmic percussion with guitar accents that are elusive and enigmatic. The music is downright hypnotic at times - the sketches have Roman Numerals I - XX and are most interesting, "V" for example has some chanting and bright guitar as does "XV" which has some of the background mumble/singing that people might be familiar from his solo recordings. "VII" even hints at boogie, while "XI" develops nearly a middle eastern vibe, with scat singing barely audible. It's to Jarrett's credit that despite the overdubbing, he sounds like a real band with guitar, bass and various percussion instruments. I was really happy with this, it goes against type, and is a blast to listen to. Hopefully there are some more surprises in store, like this unexpected gem. No End - amazon.com

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