Sunday, November 30, 2014

Keith Jarrett - Hamburg '72 (ECM, 2014)

While for the past few decades pianist Keith Jarrett has devoted himself to solo piano and trio performances (in fact, he's just up the road tonight) there was a time that he was avery adventurous and thrill seeking musician. This album finds him in the company of Charlie Haden on bass and Paul Motion on drums, only lacking Dewey Redman from Jarrett's great american quartet. This is a very exciting concert, especially for Jarrett who adds flute and soprano saxophone to his piano playing. But it was the keyboard that he opens the concert in a solo configuration on "Rainbow" and he takes a lush and melodic journey before Haden and Motian come in to move the music into a more muscular trio improvisation. The first surprise of the album comes with "Everything that Lives Laments" where Jarrett takes up the flute for an elegiac and haunted performance. Haden's bass is elastic and grounding while Motian frames Jarrett with chimes and ringing percussion. "Piece for Ornette" is a wonder, with Jarrett switching to soprano saxophone and playing it with raw and passionate fervor. Again, Haden acts as the anchor and as fascinating as Jarrett is on this track, Motian is a whirlwind of epic drumming: loud, fast and angular. It was surprising to hear, as he is often thought of as an enigmatic presence using shading of light and shadow in his percussion. Not here, on this track his driving drumming and Jarrett's raw almost reckless soprano will certainly raise an eyebrow or two. They end the performance with a powerful version of Haden's "Song For Che." Everybody takes stock and then lays into the fifteen minute episodic performance that makes for a fine capstone to this recording. ECM has been releasing one historical Jarrett album per year and they have been champs. Like last years vastly underrated No End, this album shows another facet of Jarrett's earlier work and gives the listener a different perspective to his music. Hamburg '72 -

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