Monday, November 30, 2020

Keith Jarrett - Budapest Concert (ECM Records, 2020)

Since it appears that pianist Keith Jarrett's career has come to an end due to illness, these yearly archival releases take on an increased poignancy. This album is a solo piano performance from the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall in Budapest in 2016. It is taken from the same tour as the prior Munich album, and he is really dialed in with everything he could ever want: beautiful instrument, respectful audience, acoustically favorable hall and he responds with enjoyably flowing and accessible concert drawing from jazz improvisation, classical technique and the forms of blues and standards. Jarrett spontaneously composes and improvises a twelve part suite that incorporates elements of jazz, classical and blues music into a daring and powerful performance. The music itself encapsulates and refines much of the music that he developed since the eighties when he began to focus solely on solo and trio recordings and performances. The first part of the suite is particularly arresting, as Jarrett spools out a fourteen minute improvisation, dynamically building and developing themes and motifs that would serve as a foundation for the remainder of the performance. The rest of the suite explores a wide range of territory from nearly free to spacey and patient ballad portions. He brings the suite to a close with a romping blues that is as surprising as it is welcome, swinging in a joyful fashion, it makes for a fine finale. Two standards follow as an encore, "It's A Lonesome Old Town" and "Answer Me, My Love" are played in a warm and melodic fashion, with Jarrett closely inhabiting the songs and presenting to the audience as a parting gift and completes the contract between artist and audience. There are a great many Keith Jarrett solo albums, and it will take a better fan than me to place this one in the context of his overall discography. But I can say that this was a thoroughly enjoyable album, where the music flows gracefully and is played by a master at a very high level. Budapest Concert - amazon.com

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