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Whether on his own or in company the likes of Charlie Haden, Miles Davis and Charles Lloyd, pianist Keith Jarrett has always been a trailblazer. This double-disc set of his first North American solo concert in a decade amply demonstrates just how wide-ranging and intense his performances can be. Each of these 2006 sets forms a suite of "songs that might have been keyboarded in from outer space.
Unlike his now-classic earlier albums such as The Köln Concert (ECM, 1975) and La Scala (ECM, 1997), on which there were long arcs of segued episodes, this musically varied set is composed of much more concise pieces. Parts are intensely lyrical and others angular, turbulent or probing. In a Down Beat Magazine interview last year, Jarrett observed that he's granted himself the freedom to give each spontaneously-evolving musical idea no more than the space it requires.
Many of the pieces are identified only by number. "Part II on the first disc is vigorous, undulating and melodic. Momentarily, it distantly echoes Duke Ellington's "Caravan. Its otherworldliness is accentuated by a Glenn Gould-like non-verbal accompaniment, accentuating our sense of having been invited into a singular musical world in which the unexpected is the norm. An element in Jarrett's magic box is his ability to make the strange seem so natural.
"Part III has shades of Ravel and Debussy, a haunting piece as complete as it is brief. Those musical references which seem embedded in his work do not in any way diminish the originality of what we're hearing. Encores at this memorable concert are "True Blues which rambunctiously boogies and woogies, followed by a familiar classic, "Time On My Hands, deeply and freshly nuanced.
Track Listing: CD1: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3; Part 4; Part 5. CD2: Part 6; Part 7; Part 8; Part 9; Part 10. Encores: The Good America; Paint My Heart Red; My Song; True Blues; Time on My Hands.