With the simultaneous release of his latest classical album Barber/ Bartók /Jarrett, the forty-plus year ECM mainstay, Keith Jarrett issues an unusually conceived solo piano compilation, Creation. During his first twenty years of solo releases on Manfred Eicher's iconic labelbeginning with Facing You (1971)Jarrett's solo output had been prodigious and has secured his place as the best and most creative pianist/composer of the age. While the releases kept coming, health problems in the 90s curtailed his output of live solo albums, arguably the setting in which to best appreciate Jarrett's talents.
Jarrett served as Producer (with Eicher in the Executive Producer role) and sequenced the program drawing on a non-sequential series of performances from Tokyo, Toronto, Paris and Rome, all from recent concerts. The "virtual" concertsans applause that he has created is steeped in lyricism by virtue of the pieces he has selected. The two things that make this paradigm distinctive are the almost seamless flow that imparts organic movement and the absence of pointed punctuation that infuses much of Jarrett's improvised solo work. As a result, Creation is closer to his G.I. Gurdjieff: Sacred Hymns (1980) than it is to The Köln Concert (1975).
The improvised compositions, sequentially numbered Parts I through IX are, to a large extent, reflective and ruminating. It is not until "Part V" that Jarrett hints at a spiritual if not his full-blown rollicking gospel style. There are plenty of classical influence sprinkled throughout and particularly on "Part VII" but quiet lyricism is the pervading approach. Though Creation is meditative there is real power in Jarrett's characteristic and consummate capacity to spontaneously compose improvised music and then move it to a new space.
It's fair to say that Creation is an outlier in Jarrett's musical life, orjust as appropriatea divergent passage in a long, rich autobiography. It brings to mind the recent procedural manipulations of label-mate Eberhard Weber but the bassist was exploring new streams of creativity out of a specific and personal necessity while Jarrett has discovered a platform to view disparate pieces of work as a new whole. His purpose is to reinvent his own already unique invention and that is not something you hear every day.
Part I (Toronto, Roy Thomson Hall, June 25, 2014); Part II (Tokyo, Kioi Hall, May 9, 2014); Part III (Paris, Salle Pleyel, July 4, 2014); Part IV (Rome, Auditorium Parco della Musica, July 11, 2014); Part V (Tokyo, Kioi Hall, May 9, 2014); Part VI (Tokyo, Orchard Hall, May 6, 2014); Part VII (Rome, Auditorium Parco della Musica, July 11, 2014); Part VIII (Rome, Auditorium Parco della Musica, July 11, 2014); Part IX (Tokyo, Orchard Hall, April 30, 2014).
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