Saturday, January 14, 2017

Keith Jarrett - A Multitude of Angels (ECM, 2016)

Keith Jarrett has been releasing archival sets of his work for quite a while now. This is one of his most ambitious projects, a four-disc set of recordings from a series of solo concerts recorded in Italy in October 1996, which documented four nights of performances from Modena, Ferrara, Turin, and Genoa. These were the last concerts he played having no breaks within each set and after these concerts were recorded, Jarrett fell quite ill with chronic fatigue syndrome, and retired from concert performance. Thankfully, his health has recovered and he is actively recording and performing again. The music stands as some of the best solo performing he has released, at times as populist and approachable as the Koln concert or as exploratory as the Bremen/Lausanne performances. Jazz improvisation is at the forefront here alongside touches of classical music. These performances are mostly spontaneous improvisations, and the music is free flowing with a sense of wonder to it, as if he is delighted at the potential paths that are revealed to him as the music develops. Jarrett tosses of a couple of standards, "Danny Boy" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" as encores, showing wit and humor along with the more serious music, which in itself can range from a meditative state of grace to a percussive groove. The main performances vary in length from twenty to forty-five minutes and it is very impressive that Jarrett is able to reel the listener in and invite them into what is a very personal sound world. He has been quoted as saying that he just lets the music flow as a river would and this is an apt analogy. The concerts on this album, were recorded by Jarrett himself on a DAT machine, and the sound is very good and immediate, however it does capture quite clearly Jarrett's vocalizing along with his improvisations and this could be a potential turnoff for some. But if you can compartmentalize that and focus on the music, the improvisations are very impressive and rewarding, worthy of the investment spent listening to them. A Multitude Of Angels - amazon.com

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