399

Keith Jarrett: Tokyo Solo

Victor Verney By

Sign in to view read count
Keith Jarrett
Tokyo Solo
ECM
2006



It's easy to ridicule Keith Jarrett, who gives his detractors no shortage of ammunition. Notorious for his physical gyrations, orgasmic moans and facial contortions, Jarrett will also abruptly stop a performance should anyone cough. He routinely provides cough drops for the audience and even organises "group coughs," to prevent his creativity being disrupted.

Many people find it hard to get beyond Jarrett's over-the-top tics and affectations, which they see as rising (or perhaps falling) to the level of a prima donna's comic burlesque. Miles Davis—who could be pretty temperamental himself—once asked, with acid tongue firmly in cheek, "So, Keith ... how does it feel to be a genius?"

That said, there's no denying the immensity of Jarrett's talent, some of which this video reveals. It consists of previously unreleased material from a 2002 concert, Jarrett's 150th performance in Japan, where he has found a home away from home. This is no mystery, given both the Japanese's musical sensibilities, which seem more receptive to Jarrett's atonal wanderings, and their keener sense of quiet respect compared to American audiences. (That the Japanese have a cultural affinity with ritual performance may also be a factor). Speaking of his Japanese fans, Jarrett, not best known for praising his audiences, once said "It's an honor to feel [their] respect for my work...."

More than most solo piano concerts, a Jarrett performance is a visual experience. Tokyo Solo may be something of a shock for anyone who hasn't seen Jarrett in a while. He was born in 1945, and he looks every year of his age, his formerly luxuriant hair now close-cropped and grey. The camera reveals what even the audience can't see: Jarrett's hands are the gnarled, loose-skinned hands of an ageing man.

The camera also shows what can't be heard on a recording: the notes not played. At the end of "Part 2d," a gorgeously melodic ballad composed on the spot, Jarrett hits a closing chord in the lower register, positions his hands to repeat it two octaves higher (a standard pianistic device) but then pulls them away, as if to say "No, that's fine right there." A Jarrett concert—for better or worse—is always fresh-minted.

The most pleasant surprise is when Jarrett, called out for three encores after over an hour of his trademark improvisations, responds with three standards. "Danny Boy" is rendered with such exquisite tenderness that it will likely bring tears to the eyes of some listeners. "Don't Worry 'Bout Me," which closes, is perhaps Jarrett's reassurance to his Japanese fans that his lengthy and debilitating bout with chronic fatigue syndrome is now behind him.

Director Kanama Kawachi deserves honorable mention for his camerawork. Kawachi's quietly original shots enhance the video, but avoid any distractingly self-conscious efforts at artiness. Prime examples are the several shots of Jarrett's feet, which show his use of the footpedals, including the rarely used middle, often two at once.


Tracks: Part 1a; Part 1b; Part 1c; Part 2a; Part 2b; Part 2c; Part 2d; Part 2e; Danny Boy; Old Man River; Don't Worry 'Bout Me.

Personnel: Keith Jarrett: piano.

Production Notes: 110 minutes. Recorded October 30, 2002 at Metropolitan Festival Hall, Tokyo, Japan.


Shop

More Articles

Read Man of the World: The Peter Green Story DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read Bob Dylan: No Direction Home - Deluxe 10th Anniversary  Edition DVD/Film Reviews Bob Dylan: No Direction Home - Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones - Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin America
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016
Read The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi DVD/Film Reviews The Anatomy of Vince Guaraldi
by Marc Davis
Published: December 16, 2016
Read The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris DVD/Film Reviews The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped" DVD/Film Reviews Rolling Stones: Totally Stripped
by Doug Collette
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years" DVD/Film Reviews The Beatles: Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years
by Doug Collette
Published: November 20, 2016
Read "Man of the World: The Peter Green Story" DVD/Film Reviews Man of the World: The Peter Green Story
by Jim Trageser
Published: February 11, 2017
Read "Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty" DVD/Film Reviews Johnny Winter: Down & Dirty
by Doug Collette
Published: June 11, 2016
Read "Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case of the Three Sided Dream" DVD/Film Reviews Rahsaan Roland Kirk: The Case of the Three Sided Dream
by William Levine
Published: June 15, 2016
Read "Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies 5-11-2016" DVD/Film Reviews Grateful Dead Meet Up at the Movies 5-11-2016
by Doug Collette
Published: May 14, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!