All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

476

Keith Jarrett: Radiance

John Kelman By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Keith Jarrett: Radiance Witnessing anyone overcome adversity can be inspiring, but when someone with a profound talent becomes prematurely disabled, it becomes even more meaningful. When pianist Keith Jarrett was forced to cease touring due to an extended illness that afflicted him in the mid-'90s, fans wondered if he'd ever play again. The release of his '99 home recording, The Melody at Night, With You—while a welcome indication that he may have been down but certainly not out—still showed that he was only gradually returning to strength.

In the ensuing years since that solo effort, Jarrett has restricted his activities to his long-standing Standards Trio. Unsatisfied with previous attempts at returning to the kind of lengthy solo improvisations that produced significant works including The Köln Concerts and Sun Bear Concerts, it certainly appeared that Jarrett might not perform solo ever again.

The good news is that in '02 Jarrett decided to give it another go, with one change: rather than performing a continuous improvisation, he would build his solo concerts from "discrete pieces drawn from each previous piece. The result, Radiance, is an evocative double-disc set that combines the entire performance from Osaka on 10/27/02 with four pieces from a concert in Tokyo a few days later. Any doubts about Jarrett's ability to sustain himself in the bare and exposed context of a completely improvised solo concert are laid to waste by the combination of powerful stream-of-consciousness thinking and remarkable spontaneous composition demonstrated throughout these nearly two-and-a-half hours of music.

Fans who pine for the old days of Jarrett the composer will be pleasantly surprised to find some of his pieces remarkably structured. One might even think, after listening to the delicate and hymnal "Part 3 and "Part 8, that Jarrett could take these pieces and build them into more developed works for his trio. And the fact that pieces of such beauty and form could be pulled from the ether makes them all the more compelling.

Elsewhere, Jarrett is more abstract, with pieces that seem to build tension, sometimes never resolving. And while the performance eschews any real direct ties to the jazz tradition for the most part, revealing equal connections to contemporary classical music, there are some obvious ties, the ninety-second "Part 11 being a prime example with its remarkable bebop vibe.

What makes the entire set so rewarding is Jarrett's incredible sense of intuition. There may be breaks between the pieces, but they so obviously derive from each other that the Osaka concert takes on a larger arc, with the Tokyo pieces a fitting coda. Jarrett seems to know just when to shift from free, intense abstraction to gentle, almost pastoral beauty, and there are few artists today who can structure a solo concert with such a strong sense of narrative and unerring intent.

Radiance is not just a return to form; it's an instant classic of solo improvisation that is destined to rank highly among Jarrett's strongest work.

Visit Universal Classics on the web.


Track Listing: Disc One: Parts 1-9; Disc Two: Parts 10-17

Personnel: Keith Jarrett (piano)

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop For Jazz

Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Genius Guide to Jazz
Extended Analysis
Read more articles
Creation
Creation
ECM Records
2015
buy
Hamburg '72
Hamburg '72
ECM Records
2014
buy
Last Dance
Last Dance
ECM Records
2014
buy
Ritual
Ritual
ECM Records
2014
buy
Keith Jarrett: Arbour Zena
Keith Jarrett: Arbour...
ECM Records
2014
buy
[no cover]
Concerts (Bregenz...
RCA
2013
buy
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Chick Corea Chick Corea
piano
Brad Mehldau Brad Mehldau
piano
Charlie Haden Charlie Haden
bass, acoustic
McCoy Tyner McCoy Tyner
piano
Bobby McFerrin Bobby McFerrin
vocalist
Jan Garbarek Jan Garbarek
sax, tenor

More Articles

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.