Sunday, October 30, 2011

Keith Jarrett - Rio (ECM 2011)

A fascinating document of Keith Jarrett’s solo concert in Rio de Janeiro on April 9, 2011. The pianist pulls a broad range of material from the ether: thoughtful/reflective pieces, abstract sound-structures, pieces that fairly vibrate with energy. The double album climaxes with a marvellous sequence of encores. 40 years ago Keith Jarrett recorded his first ECM disc, the solo piano “Facing You”. He has refined his approach to solo music many times since then, always finding new things to play. So it is here, in this engaging solo recording from Brazil.

“Rio” is a masterpiece, a jazz recording of such creativity that it is impossible to absorb the enormity of its achievement in one, two or even three auditions.
Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise

“What (the pieces) all have in common, apart from their spontaneity and consistency of invention, is the sense of cohesion Jarrett maintains even in his most expansive flights of imagination. With it he creates stories, portraits, moods which somehow always manage to reconcile surprise with inevitability. In Rio he seems to have been in the Zone, secure in the knowledge that, whenever he reached for something, it would be there."
Ray Comiskey, Properganda

Almost exactly forty years ago, Keith Jarrett’s association with ECM began with the recording of a solo piano album. “Facing You” (1971) was soon followed by the initiation of the solo concerts, evenings of piano improvisations, documented now on a range of influential live recordings which include “Solo Concerts (Bremen-Lausanne)”, “The Köln Concert”, “Sun Bear Concerts”, “Concerts (Bregenz-München”), “Dark Intervals”, “Paris Concert”, “Vienna Concert”, “La Scala”, “Radiance”, “The Carnegie Hall Concert” and “Testament, Paris-London”. The span of music addressed on these albums is vast, but they share a common genesis in improvisation, as well as a most remarkable artistic consistency. If it is no longer uncommon for improvisers to fill an evening’s music-making alone, Jarrett remains unrivalled in his capacity to uncover new forms in the moment: the concept of ‘spontaneous composition’ is more than an ideal here. 
Latest in the series of ongoing solo concert recordings is “Rio”. Jarrett had played in Brazil only once before, more than two decades ago, and said, before his South American concerts, that he felt he had “unfinished business” there: “I really had no idea what I meant, but this concert is it. Everything I played in Rio was improvised, and there is no way that I could have gotten to this particular musical place a second time, or in a different country: not even in a different hall or with a different audience, or on a different night.”
“Rio” documents the entire spontaneous concert at the Theatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro on April 11, 2011. The music that emerges, on this instance, has an intensely lyrical core, reflected in the fifteen short pieces that make up the concert. There is an intimate quality, too, which draws the listener toward it, from the first moments. Jarrett feels the concert was one of his best: “jazzy, serious, sweet, playful, warm, economical, energetic, passionate, and connected with the Brazilian culture in a unique way. The sound in the hall was excellent and so was the enthusiastic audience.”
The Rio concert was the second show in a short South American tour which also included performances in Sao Paolo and Buenos Aires. Jarrett has always rationed his solo appearances; there have been just seven so far in 2011.
Next up for the gifted pianist is a round of concerts with the long-running trio with Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, including US dates at Chicago’s symphony Hall on October 21, UCLA Royce Hall on October 26, Zellerbach Hall, Berkeley, on October 29, and the Earshot Jazz Festival, Seattle on November 1. The trio will release a new album, entitled “Somewhere”, in 2012.

Further Keith Jarrett releases are in preparation from ECM.

Pianist Keith Jarrett is best known for his solo work, but he brings the same sense of serendipity and surprise to his trio work. Jarrett appears with Gary Peacock (bass) and Jack DeJohnette (drums) at Seattle's Benaroya Hall Tuesday, Nov. 1.
By Paul de Barros Seattle Times jazz critic
Pianist Keith Jarrett was so buzzed about his excellent new solo album, "Rio," — released last week by ECM — that it was difficult in a phone interview a couple of weeks ago to get him to focus on his Tuesday trio date at Benaroya Hall, part of Seattle's Earshot Jazz Festival.