Keith Jarrett stands alone in the history of improvised solo piano masterpieces. He comes close with La Fenice, a pristine, two-disc archival release. Recorded in July of 2006 at the Gran Teatro La Fenice in Venice, the phoenix rises with an inspiration and open communication only Jarrett can channel.
Emotionally captivating as all his recordings ultimately are, La Fenice is comprised mostly of the eight part suite that dominates the recording. Starting as he often does with a flurry of liberating atonalityas if reviewing the immediate landscape and finding open areas to ruminateJarrett settles, after a wandering twenty minute stretch, into the wistfully compelling melodies of "Part III," "Part IV," "Part V," and "Part VIII," tunes that recall highlight moments from his lasting La Scala, (ECM, 1997)
But even with all its graceful moments of sheer creative joy and wonder, La Fenice isn't La Scala or any of the grander works that define and watermark Jarrett's sole and unique place in the art of solo piano. The music does have its lengthy holding pattern passages (the bulk of "Part I" and "Part II;" while "Part VI" is a warmly-received concoction but doesn't offer much of substance.) From Gilbert and Sullivan's comic "The Mikado" comes a reflectively playful interlude of "The Sun Whose Rays." As if cleansing the palette, Jarrett brings the set to a close, with jovially lyrical, if somewhat staid (but only by Jarrett's impossibly high standards) encores, "My Wild Irish Rose," "Stella By Starlight," and his own "Blossom," from 1974. As always, Jarrett crafts resplendent passages, but here they are too few and far between to allow La Fenice to stand with his many solo piano masterworks.
CD 1: Part I; Part II; Part III; Part IV; Part V; CD 2: Part VI; The Sun Whose Rays; Part VII; Part VIII; My Wild Irish Rose; Stella By Starlight; Blossom.
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